You’ve probably heard about heat pumps, and the extremely energy efficient way in which they provide heat to a home. This is done not by creating heat through combustion, but by moving thermal energy in the surrounding air from one place to the other. This saves a great deal on heating costs, but most heat pumps come with some caveats. All of their heating ability depends on the temperature of the air around the exterior unit. As a lower temperature will by definition lower the amount of available thermal energy, a heat pump’s heating efficiency drops with the temperature. So what do you do when you want to have a heat pump for its myriad advantages, but live in a colder climate? That’s where geothermal heating comes in.
What is Geothermal Heating?
A geothermal heating system is another kind of heat pump, which operates on the same principle of moving thermal energy instead of creating it. The difference between it and other heat pumps, however, is how it obtains this thermal energy. A geothermal system uses a loop of subterranean pipe to siphon heat from the ground. This pipe is usually installed in a backyard, approximately ten feet underground, and filled with either water or some kind of refrigerant. This pipe loop is then linked to the heat pump inside the house.
Once you get a few feet underground, the temperature is a fairly constant 55-60 degrees regardless of season. A geothermal heat pump relies on this constant temperature to help it heat a house. Though 55-60 degrees may not seem like a warm temperature, it is likely higher than the temperature outside on many winter days. The heat pump cycles the water, or refrigerant, into the central unit, taking the underground thermal energy with it. It then uses that thermal energy as a boost to reach the desired indoor air temperature. By relying on this constant underground temperature, a geothermal system avoids the sub-zero climates that can prevent most heat pumps from heating a home. Thus, it provides all of the benefits of a heat pump without one of the biggest drawbacks.
If you’re thinking of installing a geothermal heat pump, call ACI Northwest. We provide heating installation services throughout Coeur d’Alene.