The Features and Functions of a Geothermal Heat Pump

One of the most unexpected things about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can go haywire– that much less to need maintenance. And that by itself goes a long way toward lowering the overall energy costs of Alaska homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Still, the system isn’t totally devoid of moving parts. the bulk of them are found in its most important component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the system’s workhorse. Its job is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on ambient temperatures. Consequently, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner combined in one discreet package.

Water – or an antifreeze solution – is the medium by which the heat pump transfers heat. This liquid flows through underground loops of pipe that are secured to the above-ground heat pump. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and from there the heat is dispensed throughout a home by way of either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season it runs the other way ’round: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground through those same buried loops. Oh, and as an extra bonus, various geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The crucial difference between a geothermal heat pump and a common furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. Rather, it takes heat that already exists and simply moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Bear this in mind, too: underground temperatures almost always hold at around 50º F through the year. The upshot? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires considerably less energy to cool your home than conventional air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system right for your Alaska home? Turn to this area’s geothermal specialists, the friendly people at Energy Efficiency Associates.