Friday, September 22nd, 2017 by Logan Home Energy Services
Geothermal heating systems are built around the function of a heat pump. Instead of burning fossil fuels to produce warmth, heat pumps capture existing heat and move it from place to place. This allows heat pumps to provide both heating and cooling with one system.
Air-source models pull heat out of outside air and bring it indoors to warm your living spaces. When cooling, they absorb heat from the air inside your home and release it outdoors.
Ground-source geothermal heating systems work on a similar principle of heat capture and release, but instead of the air, they use the ground outside your home as the place where heat is absorbed or dispersed.
A ground-source geothermal heating system consists of a connected set of indoor and outdoor components. The indoor components include the heat pump itself, heat exchangers and air-handling fans. The outdoor parts consist largely of a series of pipes, called the loop, that’s buried in the ground at a depth of about six to 10 feet. At this depth, the temperature of the soil stays about the same no matter how hot or cold it gets on the surface. This gives the heat pump a consistent and reliable source for heat capture and release.
The loop pipes contain water or a water and antifreeze solution that serves as the heat transfer medium. The liquid in the loop pipes is circulated into your home and back into the outdoor loop. Whether the liquid takes in or gives off heat depends on whether or not you’re heating or cooling the inside of your home.
During heating operations, the liquid in the loop captures heat from the soil surrounding the pipes. The heated liquid flows through the pipes and into your home, where the heat exchanger transfers the heat to the air around the exchanger. The air handler then blows that heated air into the ductwork and out into your home. The liquid is moved back outside and the cycle begins again.
When providing cooling, the flow of liquid in the loop is reversed. Heat is captured from inside your home and released into the soil.
Perhaps the most attractive feature of geothermal heating systems is their exceptionally high level of energy efficiency. This efficiency allows geothermal systems to operate at a very economical level, significantly reducing your monthly cooling and heating expenses.
Geothermal heating systems use electricity to power the equipment that captures heat and moves it back and forth. They typically use 25 to 50 percent less electricity in this operation than more conventional heating and cooling systems. In terms of efficiency, this translates into an efficiency level of 300 to 400 percent, with one unit of electricity being expended to move one unit of heat. This exceptional efficiency is what allows a geothermal system to heat your home for a substantially reduced rate. It also means that energy consumption is reduced, which eases burdens on local utility grids and power suppliers. Emissions are also reduced since utility companies burn less fuel to meet demand.
Geothermal heating systems can save you significant amounts of money on your monthly heating and cooling expenses. It’s common for geothermal heating systems to slash home heating costs by 50 percent or more. Compared to sources of electric resistance heating, geothermal heating can cut energy consumption and associated costs by more than 70 percent.
For a homeowner, the economics of a geothermal heating system mean two very important things:
In addition to the efficiency and cost-saving benefits of geothermal heating systems, they also offer other advantages to homeowners.
Since geothermal heating systems require a substantial amount of land for installation of the loop pipes, it’s important that your installation professional evaluate some characteristics of the land before proceeding with a geothermal installation.
In all cases, geothermal heating systems should be installed by a licensed and knowledgeable contractor. Using a professional installer ensures that the equipment is installed correctly and in a way that promotes safety and proper function. Check references and licensing on contractors you’re considering. Ask questions about the installation and the equipment until you’re satisfied with the answers you have. Get a signed, itemized contract between you and your installer that indicates in detail what will be done and what is expected of you and him.
Logan Home Energy Services has more than 60 years of experience serving HVAC customers in the Winston-Salem area and in the surrounding communities. Contact us today for more information on geothermal heating systems and for professional advice on selecting, installing and maintaining a geothermal system for your North Carolina home.