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FAQ's
Geothermal Heat Pumps: What are they and how do they work?

What is a geothermal heat pump?

 

A geothermal heat pump is an electrically powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater to heat and cool your home or business.


How does it work?

 

Like any type of heat pump, it simply moves heat energy from one place to another. Your refrigerator works using the same scientific principle. By using the refrigeration process, geothermal heat pumps remove heat energy stored in the earth and/or the earth's groundwater and transfer it to the home.


How is the heat transferred between the earth and home?

 

The earth has the ability to absorb and store heat energy from the sun. To use that stored energy, heat is extracted from the earth through a liquid medium (groundwater or an anti-freeze solution) and is pumped to the heat pump or heat exchanger. There, the heat is used to heat your home. In summer the process is reversed and indoor heat is extracted from your home and transferred to the earth through the liquid.


You mentioned heating and cooling - does it do both?

 

One of the things that makes a heat pump so versatile is it's ability to be both a heating and cooling system in one. You can change from one mode to another with a simple flick of a switch on your indoor thermostats. In the cooling mode, a geothermal heat pump takes heat from indoors and transfers it to the cooler earth through either groundwater or an underground loop system.


Do I need separate ground loops for heating and cooling?

 

No. The same loop works for both. All that happens when changing from heating to cooling, or vise versa, is that the flow of heat is reversed.


What types of ground loops are available?

 

There are four main types: open, closed, horizontal and vertical.


Does the underground pipe system really work?

 

The buried pipe or "ground loop" is the most recent technical advancement in heat pump technology. The idea to bury pipe in the ground to gather heat energy began in the 1940's but its only been in the last few years that new heat pump designs and improved pipe materials have been combined to make geothermal heat pumps the most efficient heating and cooling systems available.