In the depths of the earth is a free, clean, and infinitely renewable heat. Let’s have a look at the latest scientific findings. Nearly half of the sun’s energy is stored in the earth and this acts as a giant battery. As a result, the temperature of the earth’s surface remains at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and that’s the reason why geothermal heating and cooling systems are the most advanced technology available to us.
A growing number of households are turning to geothermal heating and cooling systems in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Geothermal systems are more efficient and they can save you money on your utility bills while also increasing the value of your property. If you’d like to learn more about geothermal heat pumps and whether or not you should invest in one, read on!
What are Geothermal Heat Pumps?
Technology that uses the virtually constant temperature below the earth to heat and cool buildings is called geothermal heat pumping. The temperature of the earth, just a few feet below the surface, is always between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Geothermal heat pumps (also known as water source heat pumps) utilize this energy from beneath the earth. Rather than relying on the temperature of the ambient air to keep buildings warm in the winter, geothermal heat pumps extract heat from deep inside the Earth’s crust. There are geosolar systems that combine geothermal heat pumps with solar heating for even higher efficiency.
During winter, the temperature of the earth’s core is higher than the air above it, and during summers, it is lower. The heat exchanger is heated by the heat pump system, which removes the heat and pumps it into the interior air distribution system. In the summer, the process is reversible, with the heat pump transferring heat from the air inside to the heat exchanger.
How Does a Geothermal Heat Pump Work?
A geothermal heat pump system consists of three basic components: a heat pump unit, a ground heat exchanger, and an air delivery system or ductwork for delivering heated or cooled air. An underground loop known as the heat exchanger is buried a few feet away from the building and is used to transfer heat. A mixture of antifreeze and water runs through a series of pipes to draw heat from the earth or distribute it. During winter, this fluid is typically mixed with antifreeze to keep it from freezing.
Geothermal heat pumps employ ground heat exchangers to harvest and transmit heat into the building’s air transfer system, keeping the occupants warm and cozy all winter long. When it’s hot outside, the cycle reverses. The geothermal heat pump absorbs heat from the building’s air and transmits it to the heat exchanger. The excess heat is expelled by the heat exchanger. Homeowners can have hot water all year long by heating water with the heat taken from the structure.
As they take advantage of the free heat that exists beneath the earth, geothermal heat pumps outperform conventional systems in terms of efficiency and comfort. They also perform at their best when it comes to keeping your home cool. The homeowners benefit from efficient operations since it saves both money, and energy.
Are you thinking about installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in your house? Please get in touch with AQM!
Types of Geothermal Heat Pumps
The type of heat exchanger used in a geothermal system determines which category the system falls into. Loops of Geothermal heat pumps can be closed, open, horizontal, vertical, pond, or slinky. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Closed-Loop Geothermal Systems
The most prevalent type of geothermal system is a closed-loop system. The heat exchange medium in the heat exchanger coils is water combined with anti-freeze or another suitable refrigerant. Adding fluid to the system does not need to be done constantly. This system can be further subdivided into two.
This type of heat exchanger has vertically-oriented heat exchangers. Holes up to 400 feet deep are dug, and U-tubes are inserted into them. The pump and compressor are then connected to the network of U-tubes that have been inserted into various holes.
The borehole is subsequently filled with grout to improve the heat conductivity between the U-tubes and the ground. There are a variety of variables that influence the number of holes, their spacing, depth, and fluid volume in U-tubes. These factors include soil, the home’s heating and cooling requirements, and the seasonal temperature changes.
Compared to horizontal loops, this configuration has the advantage of being able to fit on a smaller surface area. As a result, it’s perfect for single-family homes and small businesses in densely populated locations where space comes at a huge cost. However, precautions must be taken to ensure that the boreholes are sturdy enough to withstand the pressure. Furthermore, the drilled subsoil should be strong enough to support the nearby structures.
In a horizontal loop system, a network of pipes is installed horizontally along the ground. The U-tubes are inserted into a shallow and long hole dug below the frost line. One to three meters down is the norm. In some cases, the length might be up to 400 feet.
A horizontal loop system’s heating and cooling characteristics can be greatly influenced by the system’s depth. In winter, when the earth is still comparatively cool, the loops might collect heat from the sun by being too shallow. As a result, the system’s heating capacity is increased. Due to their closeness to the earth’s surface, the loops will lose heat more quickly throughout winter.
These loops can be enlarged in-depth in order to reduce this issue. Another option is to cover the loops with a thermally non-conductive top layer. As a result, topsoil and ambient temperature fluctuations have no effect on the loops.
Large farmhouses, country estates, and the likes are more suited to horizontal loop systems because they have a lot of groundwork.
Slinky loops, like horizontal loops, are utilized in situations when horizontal loops must be employed but there is not enough room for them to fit. It’s like horizontal loops, except the pipes are coil-like. When positioned at the bottom of the trench, these loops will overlap. The fluid travels the same distance through the pipes, but the system as a whole is covered in less time.
These systems can only be employed in areas where there is an adequate amount of water. Submerging the loops or laying them on the water’s surface are two options for using them. No digging or drilling is required for this system, and in the event of a failure or leak, the loop system may be easily extracted. The depth of the water body should be sufficient enough that the effects of temperature on the surface are not reflected in the loops’ temperature.
Open-Loop Geothermal Systems
There are many types of open-loop geothermal heating systems. An open-ended pipe can be used to collect water from an underground aquifer, a hot spring, or any other suitable water source. The heat pump’s exchangers then heat up the water again. A reasonable distance from the water intake, the used water is subsequently disposed of inside the same water source.
In order to avoid damaging the heat pump or heat exchangers, great care must be taken to ensure that the input water is adequately pure and has a proper mineral composition. Corrosion can be accelerated by water containing dissolved chemicals or solids that react with the heat exchanger’s substance. Limescale can build up on the inside of pipes, lowering the amount of water that can flow through them.
The treated water must also be disposed of in accordance with local environmental rules. Since even more stringent rules could prohibit the discharge of water, closed-loop solutions are required.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
A heat pump is almost always included in a geothermal installation. It’s hidden away in a cabinet most of the time. Compressors, heat exchangers, and other control systems are all part of a geothermal heat pump’s components. An air handling unit is also included in the package if the heating and cooling system uses air to condition the interior spaces.
The refrigerant (often water) in the ground loops and the medium in the ductwork exchange heat. A heat pump’s heat exchanger uses ground heat to warm the water throughout the winter. Compression raises the temperature of the refrigerant, making it a gas. Extracted heat from the refrigerant is then transported through a network of ducts or pipes in the home. If heat is being distributed through the air, the final stage is usually performed by air-handling devices.
In the summer, this process is reversed. Through subsurface loops, the refrigerant in geothermal cooling absorbs heat from inside the building and dissipates it outside.
Geothermal Distribution System
Geothermal systems, like ducted air conditioners, make use of a network of ducts. Because geothermal systems can be installed in homes with ductwork already in place, they are ideal for restoration projects. In this case, the existing ducts can be used to accomplish this goal.
Liquid-to-air systems that use air to move heat across a building are an example of this. These massive fans are used to transport vast volumes of air through ducts. Water-to-water systems, on the other hand, use pipes installed in the home’s foundation or radiator space heaters to distribute water throughout the house.
You can use water-to-water systems in your house as a water heater. When compared to boilers, which must maintain water temperatures between 150 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a geothermal heat pump can maintain a more comfortable 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, using a geothermal system to pre-heat the water saves energy in the boiler.
For heating and cooling systems, water-to-water setups are a popular choice. Underneath the floor or inside the walls, there are loops. Heating and cooling can still be provided via these loops, which are hidden away and do not produce any noise. Another option is to combine geothermal heating with baseboard heating. To be safe, use this option only after consulting an expert about your home’s sizing and heating needs.
Advantages of Using Geothermal System
There are various advantages to using a geothermal system. Let’s have a look at a few of them…
Compared to traditional air conditioning, geothermal heating and cooling systems are significantly more efficient. For the most part, this is because geothermal heat pumps don’t send heat out into the hot air, but rather transfer it to a cold one.
Using a geothermal system can save you up to 50% on energy costs. In the sweltering summer heat, this could be a lifesaver. To some extent, this is due to geothermal systems’ high Energy Efficiency Ratios (EERs), which can rise to as high as 25, compared to just 15 on conventional systems. As a result, geothermal cooling can have a significant impact on summer utility costs.
Geothermal systems have fewer moving components than traditional HVAC systems, making them easier to maintain. There are no ducts, dampers, or louvers and there is no fuel to keep in check. There’s no need to run a furnace in the winter and a heat pump in the summer to keep your house comfortable for living. The heat pump and ground loops are the two most important parts of a geothermal system. Ground loops are put in at the beginning of the project and rarely need to be repaired.
Reduced Costs of Operation
Traditional air conditioners typically last between ten to fifteen years. But only if you’ve taken the proper precautions. The lifespan of your HVAC system can get shortened if you don’t maintain it properly.
However, a geothermal heating or cooling system might endure anywhere from twenty to fifty years. There is little to no upkeep required. It is unnecessary to monitor the ground loops on a regular basis, therefore the system can run for an extended period of time. This is due to the fact that a geothermal system isn’t subject to natural elements year-round like a conventional one is. The dangerous contaminants in the air, as well as the wind and temperature variations, are all things that a traditional HVAC system has to contend with.
Whether it’s a geothermal system, a furnace, or an air conditioning unit, you can rely on AQM to keep you warm and cool all year long!
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a Geothermal heating system differ from other heating systems?
A traditional heating system employs propane or natural gas to heat the space and an air conditioner to cool it. In contrast, geothermal systems employ a single heat pump to heat and cool your home using the ground’s steady temperature.
Rather than relying on the combustion of fossil fuels to generate heat, a geothermal heating system uses the earth’s natural heat to warm your home more efficiently and at a lower cost. Only the system’s compressor, fan, and the pump will be powered by electricity.
Does it cost too much to maintain the Geothermal Heat Pump System?
No. Geothermal heating systems don’t require much upkeep. A properly installed buried loop should last for many years. This is due to the fact that they circulate fluid at low pressure.
Inside your house, all of the other parts are safe and secure from the outside elements. When it comes to air filters, most people don’t have to worry about changing them more than once or twice every year.
What Is the Cost of Geothermal Heating Installation?
To begin with, geothermal heating systems require a greater upfront expenditure. $10,000 to $30,000 is the usual cost of a geothermal heating system. There are several variables that influence the amount.
Factors such as the type of geothermal heating system, the location and the quality of installation are all important to consider. If you want an advanced geothermal system, it will cost you at least $30,000. More than half of the expense of installation is spent on drilling and digging.
To install a geothermal heating system, how big of a piece of land do I need to have?
Depending on the type of loop system that you choose to implement, the amount of space required will vary. If you want a vertical or horizontal loop system, you’ll have to decide which one to go with. As a result, a vertical loop takes up less space than a horizontal loop does.
However, a horizontal loop is located closer to the ground and comprises pipes that run horizontally across the ground. The typical depth ranges from a meter or two to three meters. Installing a horizontal loop system is a good option if you’re living in a large farmhouse or country estate.
Geothermal energy was previously considered rare, but it is now becoming increasingly popular as more people seek out more cost-effective alternatives to traditional methods of heating and cooling their houses. The final decision relies on your unique situation, including whether it’s a new house or an old one, the amount of heating and cooling capacity needed, and many other variables. You may rely on our AQM geothermal installers near you if you’d want to get rid of your old furnace and air conditioner and replace them with a geothermal system.