Wondering about the best way to heat and cool a home? There’s a number of choices, but one stands out from the rest: a geothermal heat pump.
Standard air-source heat pumps work well for warm to moderate climates. However, they can become expensive to use for heat when the temperature drops below 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
That’s because they draw their heat from the air; this causes backup electric heat strips to cut on for additional heat at lower temperatures.
So, some homeowners in colder climates look for a more efficient alternative. And it turns out, that source is right in their backyard.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
While a standard heat pump uses the temperature of outside air for heating and cooling, a geothermal one draws on more constant temperatures found underground as the medium of exchange.
Through a series of buried pipes, a geothermal heat pump absorbs heat from the ground to warm your home. In the summer, the process reverses, with heat removed from your home and transferred back into the ground.
A network of buried polyethylene pipes used to exchange heat operates as either a closed or open loop.
In a closed-loop system, a mixture of antifreeze and water circulates from the heat pump through the pipes and back again. An open loop draws water from a well or pond, which then returns to the ground after use.
Installers bury ipes for a closed-loop geothermal system horizontally 4 to 7 feet deep. Or they bury them vertically 150 to 400 feet underground.
Once the heat has been extracted from the fluid, it’s transferred to an air handler and ductwork to your home. This is similar to other forced-air HVAC systems.