What is a Geothermal Heating System?

One of the most cost-effective, long-term solutions for heating and cooling is the ground-source heat pump, more commonly known as a geothermal heating system. This system uses the natural capacity of the earth’s soil or groundwater to store heat, capturing this heat and translating it to homes and other buildings.

The groundwater and soil of the earth maintain a rather constant temperature a few feet below the ground surface making geothermal systems a reliable technology for heating and even for cooling. While new construction may incorporate geothermal heating, this type of system can be retrofitted into existing buildings and homes for heating and cooling and even providing a hot water source. You can reduce your energy footprint, save money on your utility bill and do your part in reducing pollution by relying less on fossil fuels.

Most geothermal heating systems transfer the heat from groundwater or soil through the use of a matrix of tubes called closed loops or open loops. Closed loops use antifreeze and water solution circulating through what is called a ground loop which allows for the extraction of heat from the earth. Open loops use well water to use as the source of heat and once used is returned to another well or a drainage compartment.

Each geothermal heating system contains a ground loop, an indoor heat pump, and a flow center which links the outdoor and indoor heating equipment together. The heat pump removes the heat from one location (the earth) and deposits it in another (the home) using the ground loop as the conduit for transfer. The open or closed loop systems constantly transfer the liquid over and over to maintain the transference of heat. The beauty of geothermal heating systems is that they can be used for almost any size home.

Cooling is also accomplished during warm seasons using the geothermal heating system. In this instance, the process of drawing heat into the home is reversed. The system draws heat away from the home and transferred it to the earth for absorption. This geothermal process is a lot more energy efficient than a regular air conditioner for keeping the home cool during warmer weather.

The size of the geothermal heating system will dictate the cost you can expect to pay. The approximate amount can vary from $3,000 to $8,000 but the system lasts much longer than traditional heating and cooling methods – about 30 years! In comparison, traditional central air and heating systems run about $3,000 to $4,000 and cost more per month to operate than geothermal units.

If you are in the process of planning to build or remodel a home, it is the perfect opportunity to consider incorporating a geothermal heating system. Not only is it more energy efficient to heat and cool your home, but it is also a “green” technology. Jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon and save money in the long run too!

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