What is a geothermal heat pump?
A geothermal or "ground-source" heat pump is an electrically-powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth's groundwater to heat and cool your home or business.
Will an underground loop effect my landscaping or lawn?
No. Research has shown that loops have no adverse effects on grass, trees, or shrubs. Most horizontal installations require trenches about six inches wide. Temporary bare areas can be restored with grass seed or sod. Vertical loops require little space and do not damage lawns significantly. Also, our patent pending drilling method produces less soil disruption than other methods, causing minimal interference with your landscaping.
How is heat transferred between the earth and the home?
The earth has the ability to absorb and store heat energy. To use that stored energy, heat is extracted through the earth through a liquid medium (water or an anti-freeze solution) and is pumped to the heat pump heat exchanger. There, the heat is used to heat your home. In summer the process is reversed and indoor heat is extracted from your home and transferred to the earth through the liquid.
You mentioned heating and cooling; does it do both? And what about hot water?
One of the things that will make a ground source heat pump so versatile is its ability to be a heating and cooling system in one. You can change from one mode to another with a simple flick of a switch on your indoor thermostat. Plus, a geothermal heat pump can assist in heating hot water year-round.
Do I need separate ground loops for heating and cooling?
No. The same loop works for both. All that happens when changing from heating to cooling, or vice versa, is that the flow of heat is reversed inside the unit.
What types of loops are available?
There are two main types: open and closed. For closed loop systems, water or antifreeze solution is circulated through pipes buried beneath the earth's surface. During the winter, the fluid collects heat from the earth and carries it through the system and into the building. During the summer, the system reverses itself to cool the building by pulling heat from the building, carrying it through the system and placing it in the ground. This process creates free hot water in the summer and delivers substantial hot water savings in the winter.
Open loop systems operate on the same principle as closed loop systems and can be installed where an adequate supply of suitable water is available and open discharge is feasible. All of our systems are closed loop, meaning that the same water & environmentally friendly antifreeze mixture is continually circulated throughout the loop field; it never escapes. Closed loop is the only type of loop field allowed by some states because it is environmentally friendly. An open loop field, sometimes called “pump & dump”, requires an ample source of groundwater. A well is drilled to the water source, it is pumped up the pipes to the heat pump where heat is extracted or injected and then sent down a return well where it re-enters the water source. Open loops are more uncommon because they require an significant water source below the surface.
How much space does a geothermal system require?
Most of a geothermal installation is underground. Inside the house, the heat pump units are about the same size as a traditional heating and cooling unit.
How noisy is the ground source heat pump unit?
Ground source heat pumps are very quiet, providing a pleasant environment inside and outside of the home. Ground source heat pumps have no noisy fan units to disturb outside activities, on or near the patio.
What about comfort?
A geothermal system moves warm air (90-105F) throughout your home or business via standard ductwork. An even comfort level is created because the warm air is moved in slightly higher volumes and saturates the building with warmth more evenly. This helps even out hot or cold spots and eliminates the cold air blasts common with fossil fuel furnaces.
How will I save money with a geothermal system?
Geothermal systems save money, both in operating costs and maintenance costs. Investments can be recouped in as little as three years. There is a positive cash flow, since the energy savings usually exceeds payments on the system.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of horizontal and vertical loop field installations?
Horizontal installations require longer lengths of pipe due to to seasonal variations in soil temperature and moisture content. Since a horizontal heat exchanger is laid out in trenches, a larger area is also required than needed for a vertical installation. Vertical installations use less pipe and they require more drilling. Where land is limited or there is extensive hard rock in the soil, vertical installation may be the only available choice. Both options are efficient and the geography of your land will help us determine the best choice for your home.
What are the environmental benefits of a geothermal system?
Currently installed systems are making a huge difference in our environment! The systems are eliminating more than three million tons of carbon dioxide and is equivalent of taking 650,000 automobiles off the road. Geothermal systems conserve energy and, because they move heat that already exists rather than burning something to create heat, they reduce the amount of toxic emissions in the atmosphere. They use renewable energy from the sun, and because the system doesn’t rely on outside air, it keeps the air inside of buildings cleaner and free from pollens, outdoor pollutants, mold spores, and other allergens.
Will my existing ductwork function with this system?
Yes, in most cases. We will be able to determine ductwork requirements and if any minor modifications are needed after meeting with you.
How efficient is a ground source heat pump?
The ground source heat pump is the most efficient heating and cooling systems available today, with heating efficiencies of 30% to 70% higher than other heating systems and cooling efficiencies 40% to 75% higher than available air conditioners. That directly translates into savings for you on your utility bills.
How safe are ground source heat pump systems?
Ground source heat pump systems are safe and protected. With no exposed equipment outdoors, children or pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units. There are no open flames, flammable fuel or potentially dangerous fuel storage tanks.