A heat pump is a heating and cooling system that moves heat between the interior and exterior of the house. During the cold season, the heat pump draws heat from the air and dumps it inside. During the hot season, the heat pump draws heat from inside the house and dumps it outside. Some heat pumps exchange heat between indoor and outdoor air, but a geothermal heat pump exchanges heat between indoor air and the ground.
A geothermal heat pump is made up of three main parts: the air delivery system (ductwork), the heat pump unit, and the ground heat exchanger. The air delivery system disperses heated air throughout the house, the heat pump unit circulates the cooling liquid, and the ground heat exchanger (a series of tubes buried in the ground) exchanges heat between the coolant and the ground.
During the summer, the coolant picks up heat inside the house and the pump forces the liquid outside into the ground where it dumps its heat into the ground. During the winter, the direction of the flow of the coolant is reserved. The coolant gets heated outside from the ground before it is pumped inside to warm up the indoor air.
Geothermal heat pumps are relatively more expensive than other heating and cooling systems, so you might wonder why one would opt for such a system. The following are some of the benefits of geothermal heat pumps.
Energy efficiency is the premier benefit of geothermal heat pumps. This is because the system can work without using any external source of energy, such as electricity or fossil fuel. In the long run, your energy bills will be considerably lower if you use a heat pump (given that heating and cooling consume a lot of energy in a typical home).
Since heat pumps don't use nonrenewable energy, they don't pollute the environment compared to systems that run on electricity or gas. This also reduces the amount of pollution in the air, which has associated health benefits.
One disadvantage of other heating and cooling systems is that their outdoor components tend to be quiet ugly. Fortunately, the outdoor component of a geothermal heat pump is buried entirely underground. Thus, the system doesn't interfere with your home's curb appeal at all.
The next time you want to install a heating and cooling system, ask your contractor about geothermal heat pumps or other nontraditional forms of heating and cooling. You might just land a gem that you wouldn't have known about without asking.
For more information on heat pumps or other HVAC services, contact an HVAC contractor.