Geothermal Ground Source Heat Pumps

Geothermal ground source heat pumps draw energy from the earth's crust. About 10 to 15 feet below the earth's surface there is a constant temperature (somewhere between 45 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you are). This constant temperature is used to heat homes during winter and cool them during summer.

Solar purists will note that geothermal energy is actually solar energy stored in the earth.

The principle is really very simple

When the air is colder than the ground ten or fifteen feet below the surface, the difference in temperature (heat) is transferred to the inside of the house through a system of piping. Geothermal heat transferred to your house makes it easier for your furnace to heat the air. The opposite principle works during summer: cooler temperatures underground cool your house.

How Geothermal works

The transfer of temperature from outside the house to inside is done a number of ways.

This may sound a bit familiar to some people

Closed loop geothermal heat pumps are similar to solar thermal systems: water or anti-freeze circulates through a system of piping. (The pipes can also circulate air, though this is used less often). The temperature (hot in winter and cool in summer) is then transferred to the house through its ductwork.

There are four basic ways this is done. Each of these circulates either water or an anti-freeze solution through an extended system of piping that has been installed under ground. Four different types or systems of piping you can read more about are:

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