How Do Geothermal HVAC Systems Work?

by Rowan Guthrie
A geothermal heat pump system is depicted in a photo illustration showing a white house with a dark colored pointed roof sitting on a concrete slab and next to it a cutout view of the underground of a grassy yard with blue and red piping coils demonstrating how heat and coolness are transferred from the earth to the home, geothermal heat pump, geothermal, heat pump, climate control, heating, cooling, HVAC, heating ventilation and air conditioning, coils, heater, AC, air conditioning, air conditioner, house, home, grass, lawn, green grass, yard, underground, dugout, photo illustration

We humans aren’t designed for all types of weather. We get too hot when temperatures rise and too cold when they drop. Thankfully, we can flip on our HVAC systems to cool us down or warm us back up.

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But did you know that there’s a type of heating and cooling system that harnesses the planet’s natural energy to keep your home comfortable year-round? It's called geothermal HVAC.

What Is a Geothermal HVAC System?

Let's begin by getting a clear understanding of what it is. HVAC is short for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The geothermal system is cutting-edge technology that uses the earth's stable temperature to provide energy-efficient heating and cooling for homes.

Geothermal systems differ from traditional HVAC setups that rely on burning fossil fuels or electricity. Instead, they tap into the earth's heat, which remains constant below the frost line, typically around 10 to 20 feet below the surface.

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How Does a Geothermal HVAC System Work?

Now that you know the basics, let’s take a look at how it can keep your home comfortable throughout the year.

Heat Exchange

Geothermal systems transfer heat to and from the soil around your property. To start the process, a heat pump installed in your home extracts heat from the ground or transfers excess heat back into it, depending on the season. This heat exchange is possible because the earth's temperature remains relatively stable below the surface, typically around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 15.5 degrees Celsius).

Closed Loop Systems

Closed loop systems are one of the most common setups. They involve a network of underground pipes filled with a mixture of water and antifreeze. The pipes are buried vertically or horizontally to maximize contact with the earth's consistent temperature.

Open-Loop System

An alternative approach for heat exchange is the open-loop system. It uses well water or another water source directly from the ground. The system pumps water and the heat pump extracts or deposits heat from or into it before returning it to the earth.

Heat Pump Efficiency

The heat pump is the heart of the geothermal HVAC system. Its job is to exchange the heat between your home and the ground. Geothermal heat pumps don't need to generate heat, which means they reduce energy consumption. They only move heat, making them more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional HVAC systems.

Forced-Air Distribution

Once the heat pump has extracted or deposited heat, a forced-air system distributes it throughout your home. The warm or cool air circulates through each room, ensuring a comfortable indoor environment.

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Why Choose Geothermal HVAC?

Geothermal HVAC systems offer numerous advantages over traditional heating and cooling methods.

  • Energy efficiency: Geothermal systems typically use 25% to 50% less electricity than conventional HVAC systems, significantly reducing energy bills.
  • Eco-friendly: Using renewable geothermal energy reduces your carbon footprint and contributes to a greener planet.
  • Longevity: Geothermal systems have a longer life span than traditional systems, often lasting 20 to 25 years or more with minimal maintenance. Some components can last upward of 50 years.
  • Stable temperatures: Enjoy consistent and comfortable indoor temperatures year-round, regardless of the temperature outside.
  • Financial incentives: Many regions offer incentives and tax credits to encourage people to adopt geothermal HVAC systems.
  • Quiet operation: If you have a traditional heat pump system, you’ll find geothermal systems are quieter, which can contribute to a more peaceful indoor environment.
  • Space savings: Geothermal systems typically require less space than outdoor HVAC units, making them suitable for properties with limited outdoor space.
  • Improved indoor air quality: Because they don’t burn fossil fuels, they don’t release airborne pollutants, contributing to better indoor air quality.
  • Low maintenance: They require minimal maintenance, mainly involving periodic checks and filter changes. Consequently, maintenance costs can be lower.
  • Resilience: As no part outdoors is above ground, they’re less vulnerable to external weather conditions, such as freezing cold, or outdoor unit damage from debris or vandalism.

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. Systems, equipment, issues and circumstances vary. Follow the manufacturer's safety precautions. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of the Blog is subject to the

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The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Editorial Content should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state reviewing your issue. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of eLocal Editorial Content is subject to the

Website Terms and Conditions.

The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.

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