The Properties and Purposes of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What practically everyone says they like best about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can get screwed up– that much less to need maintenance. And that alone goes far in reducing the overall energy costs of Seattle homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.

 

Of course, there are some moving parts in the system. the majority of them are found in its most vital component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the engine that drives the system. Its task 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 season30. Thus, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner combined in one compact package.

Water – or an antifreeze solution – is the medium by which the heat pump transfers heat. 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 the exact opposite happens: 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 bonus, more than a few geothermal systems also supply domestic hot water.

The essential difference between a geothermal heat pump and a standard furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel burning 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. Be aware of this, too: underground temperatures generally remain at around 50º F year round. Result? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires substantially less energy to cool your home than traditional air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system right for your Seattle home? See this region’s geothermal wizards, the cordial folks at Vaughn Mechanical.