The Fundamental Properties and Purposes of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What pretty much all homeowners say they like best about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can break down– that much less needing maintenance. And that in and of itself goes a long way toward lowering the overall energy costs of Central Virginia homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Of course, there are some moving parts in the system. Most of them are found in its most important component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the engine that drives the system. Its task is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on ambient temperatures. That being the case, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner integrated into one discreet package.

What, then, does a heat pump use to transfer heat? Water! Well, that or a solution containing antifreeze. This liquid courses through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is attached above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and the heat is then is circulated throughout a home by either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season the process runs in reverse: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it to the ground via those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in all this, many geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The crucial difference between a geothermal heat pump and a typical furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. No, indeed, it takes heat that already exists and just moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Bear this in mind, too: underground temperatures usually remain at around 50º F all year long. The upshot? A geothermal heating and cooling system uses substantially less energy to cool your home than regular air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system the answer for your Central Virginia home? Consult with this region’s geothermal wizards, the helpful people at Scott Horseman Heating & Air Conditioning Inc..