The Basic Features and Functions of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What the great majority of homeowners say they appreciate best about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has so little in the way of moving parts. There’s just that much less that can go bad– that much less to maintain. And that alone makes a big difference in lowering the overall energy costs of Atlanta homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

That said, 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 role 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. As such, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner united in one discreet package.

How the heat pump transfers heat is with water or an antifreeze solution. This liquid courses through pipe loops buried underground and attached to the heat pump, which is kept above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and from that point the heat is dispensed throughout a home by either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season the exact opposite happens: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground through those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in all this, lots of geothermal systems also supply domestic hot water.

The basic distinction between a geothermal heat pump and a typical furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t ignite fuel to generate heat. No, indeed, it takes heat that’s already there and merely moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Keep this in mind, too: underground temperatures almost always hold at around 50º F through the year. Result? A geothermal heating and cooling system uses considerably less energy to cool your home than typical air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system the best way to go for your Atlanta home? See this area’s geothermal wizards, the friendly people at EcoMech.