residential air conditioning

Geothermal Heat Pump

Geothermal Heat Pump

Choosing energy-efficient geothermal heat pump solutions for your home can help you generate four times the energy you spend on operating the system. The advantages far outweigh any initial costs associated with geothermal heat pump installation or maintenance. Let’s look at this cost-efficient system in-depth.

What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Geothermal heat pump technology harnesses the Earth’s heat energy to deliver a highly renewable and energy-efficient alternative to conventional energy sources.

Also referred to as the ground source approach, this system is suited for both commercial and residential establishments. In addition, they can be used to provide heating and cooling of space and water.

An almost-constant temperature is present just a few feet below the Earth’s surface. This temperature is not determined by the winters, summers, or above-surface temperatures. Further down the surface of the Earth, you can find that the temperature gradually increases by an average of 1°F for every 70 – 100 feet. It could vary from one place to another depending on the region, its proximity to volcanic activities, presence of hot streams, hot pockets and more.

How Does the Heat Pump Work?

A geothermal heat pump solution takes advantage of the difference between the on-surface and subsurface temperatures. It moves the heat – using heat-conveying fluid, mostly water – from the ground to the surface through a labyrinth of connected pipes. You can install the pipes in a horizontal trench or let them go deep under the surface.

If the surface temperature is cooler than the ground temperature, the heat from the ground is moved into the building. Similarly, if the above-ground temperature is warmer, the excess heat is moved to the ground, effectively cooling the building. However, the present-day geothermal heat pump is not an entirely renewable energy source, as it needs a minimal amount of electricity to operate.

Heating Mode

Circulation: The heat pump on the ground pushes the heat conveying liquid (mostly water) into the ground through a series of pipes.

Absorption: The water starts absorbing heat from the ground, surrounding rocks and soil as it passes through the pipes.

Exchange: This heated fluid is sent into the building, where it can be used for different purposes.

Repetition: As the water loses its heat and returns to lower temperatures, it is sent through the ground pipes to be heated again.

Cooling Mode

Absorption: A heat exchanger uses water or heat conveying liquid to absorb heat from inside the building, similar to how an air conditioner works.

Circulation: The heat pump on the ground moves the heated air through the pipes to the ground.

Discharge: When this heated water passes through the pipes, it releases heat into the cooler soil, ground and rocks.

Repetition: As the heat is transferred, it returns as a cold liquid back into the building to cool down the place.

What are the two Major Installation Options Available?

All geothermal systems use consistent ground temperature to heat and cool their homes. Although there are several approaches to geothermal heating installation, all the types fall under these two:

Closed Loop Systems

In a closed loop system, the heat transfer happens continuously in a loop through the buried pipes. The pipes in a closed loop system are filled with heat conveying liquid only once, which is recirculated through the pipes repeatedly.

Open Loop Systems

The pipes take groundwater from an aquifer to the indoor geothermal pump in an open loop system. As the water leaves, it is expelled through a discharge well located at some distance. Sometimes, the water is expelled into nearby waterways such as ponds or drainage ditches.

What is the Installation Process?

The installation process of geothermal heat pumps is not extremely complex, yet it requires expert help from trained technicians as it involves several parts, pipes, and electrical work. The entire process starts with,

Home Assessment

The first step in geothermal installation is home assessment. Home assessment means understanding your home’s specific heating and cooling requirements, energy distribution needs, and insulation. The assessment also includes evaluating the geology and hydrology of your location.

Field Excavation for Pipe Laying

Next, the installers will start the field excavation process to aid pipe laying. Based on your choice – horizontal or vertical loop systems, the excavation could take anywhere between one to three days. Horizontal pipe installation is cost-efficient and less time-consuming. Vertical pipe installation is pricier, yet the heat collection efficiency is greater.

Pipe Installation

Next comes the actual pipe installation work, which involves placing the pipes in the loop fields and packing them up with an antifreeze solution. After laying the pipes, ductwork is completed. Once this is done, the in-floor heating system and the ground loop are connected to allow heat flow.

Regular Maintenance

Since the geothermal heat pump has limited moving parts, it is easier to maintain. However, you should perform seasonal adjustments for winter and summer temperatures to increase the heat pump’s longevity.

What are the Benefits of Installing Geothermal Heat Pumps?

There are several benefits to installing Geothermal heat pumps. Some of them are:

  • Instead of producing heat by the combustion of non-renewable fossil fuels, geothermal heat pumps draw heat from Earth – a natural source.
  • Geothermal heat pumps make use of a renewable energy source.
  • For every unit of electricity required to operate the system, you will be able to achieve a heat output that is four times more.
  • Although the initial investment in installation and equipment might be high, the operational cost saves up to 50% of your energy bills.
  • The noise levels in the geothermal heat pump are almost non-existent, unlike in other heating and cooling systems.
  • You might be eligible for governmental incentives when installing geothermal heat pumps.
  • The minimal maintenance and operating expenses associated with geothermal heat pumps are another reason it is a popular choice.

Debunking 3 Myths About Geothermal Heat Pumps

Many myths and facts are doing the rounds when it comes to understanding geothermal heat pumps and their working. So let’s put some myths to rest to understand this energy approach better.

Myth: Geothermal heat pump doesn’t offer Air Conditioning

Not true! Your geothermal heat pump works as a two-way HVAC system that can be used to heat and cool your home. Although you call it a ‘heat pump’, it is not exactly used only for heating. Like your air conditioner, geothermal heat pumps transfer heat from within the ground to your house through heated liquid passing via looped pipes.

Similarly, the heating process works equally well as a cooling solution. The same principle is applied in reverse. The heat from your home is transmitted to underground pipes, where the lower-temperature soil absorbs the heat from the liquid and dissipates cold air into your home.

Myth: The benefits of geothermal heat pumps don’t offer the same benefits as other heating and cooling systems.

Completely untrue! The geothermal heat pump approach offers many benefits to you. As it works for heating and cooling needs, you will not be required to install new systems for each need. Moreover, unlike other HVAC systems, you will be eligible to receive government benefits when you install ground source heat pumps.

Myth: There are downsides to installing Geothermal heat pumps for your home.

Partially true! There are downsides to installing a geothermal heat approach. One of the biggest downsides could be the initial installation cost, which can be met with governmental incentives. The next major downside could be the necessity to hire experienced and certified technicians for installation, as this is no DIY project.

Of all the points to consider when installing geothermal heat pumps for your home, choosing the right installer – experienced and qualified – tops the list.

A well-qualified installer will be able to evaluate the soil conditions at your home, identify the right type of geothermal pump for your particular need, provide warranties for the installation work, and whether they offer a maintenance contract for after-installation support.

One installation and maintenance company that offers all these and more in Hamilton. Choosing Hamilton can make a big difference to your costs, ROI, energy efficiency and peace of mind.  

Matthew Connery
By: Matthew Connery

Matthew Connery is the Director of Hamilton Air Conditioning in London. He is a skilled Business Strategist who delivers energy-efficient and cost-saving solutions to commercial and domestic clients from leading air conditioning brands. 

Dec 05 2022