Like all heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps work by using refrigerant to extract heat from one location and move it to another. They’re called pumps because just as a water pump can make water travel uphill, heat pumps can make heat flow in any direction. Air-source models are currently the most common type of heat pumps for heating & cooling sold in the United States. They operate on the same type of technology as your household refrigerator, using household air as a heat sink for the heat removed from inside the appliance. Commonly known as ground-source pumps, geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) utilize subterranean heat as a thermal energy source and sink.
Energy-Efficient Heating & Cooling Technology
Just below the earth’s frost line, the temperature maintains a constant temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is generated from solar radiation trapped beneath the surface of the earth. HVAC systems that use this renewable energy source are highly energy efficient, offering significant savings on monthly energy bills. Because their operation doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, GHPs have a much lower environmental impact than traditional heating and cooling systems as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they’re currently the most energy-efficient cooling and heating system available on the market.
How Geothermal Heat Pumps Work
Like a conventional air conditioner, ground-source heat pumps rely on the refrigerant cycle to move heat from one spot to another. Refrigerant cycles through the looped system, changing from a liquid to a gas and back again. As the liquid evaporates into a gas, the refrigerant pulls in heat from its surroundings. In the winter, a ground-source pump collects and concentrates underground heat and transfers it into your home. During the summer, the system reverses. The pump then extracts heat from the air inside your home and uses the earth as a heat sink.
Geothermal Costs and Savings
Ground-source heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular choices for home heating and cooling systems, with an annual growth rate of more than 10 percent. System life is estimated at 25 years, with the ground loop equipment remaining operational for up to 50 years. Although they cost more to install than conventional HVAC systems, the investment is quickly recovered through savings on heating and cooling costs. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Air Force Institute of Technology, the payback period for a ground-source pump can be as short as seven years. Homeowners who take advantage of the federal renewable energy tax credit can enjoy an even faster return on their investment. The federal tax credit pays for up to 30 percent of the system’s installation cost.
Serving the community since 1963, Gentry Heating is pleased to offer innovative ground-source heat pumps for homes and businesses in Columbus NC. Our NATE-certified contractors are trained to install, repair and service GHPs so that you can enjoy the clean, green and cost-saving technology for many years to come. Please give us a call for additional information.