The Properties and Purposes of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What just about everyone says they love most about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has so little in the way of moving parts. There’s just that much less that can fall apart– that much less requiring maintenance. And that alone plays a significant role in lowering the overall energy costs of Portland, OR homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

That said, there are some moving parts in the system. the majority of them are found in its most important component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the system’s engine. Its purpose is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on the weather30. In Consequence, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner combined in one discreet package.

What, then, does a heat pump use to transfer heat? Water! Well, that or a solution containing antifreeze. This liquid courses through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is attached above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and from that point the heat is distributed throughout a home by either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season it runs in reverse: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it to the earth by way of those same buried loops. Oh, and as an added perk, more than a few geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The basic distinction between a geothermal heat pump and a standard furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t burn fuel to generate heat. Rather, it takes heat that’s already present and merely moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Keep this in mind, too: underground temperatures usually remain at around 50º F all year long. Result? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires significantly less energy to cool your home than regular air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system right for your Portland, OR home? See this region’s geothermal wizards, the helpful folks at Total Energy Concepts.