Geothermal Heat Pump | Heating and Air Conditioning
Geothermal energy is not a modern invention. In New England, a popular series recently remodeled a home built in the 1700’s. The home was still using the same heating system today that it did in the 1700’s. Hot springs behind the home supplies its geothermal heating. Such sources of energy are limited to specific locations, but almost anyone can take advantage of ground energy without relocating near a hot springs. All you need is a modern heating and air conditioning invention, the geothermal heat pump.
In the heating process, a geothermal heat pump operates similar to a refrigerator where refrigerant is circulated, and becomes hot when compressed and cold when it expands. The hot compressed refrigerant passes through a heat exchanger warming the air that enters the duct system. Refrigerant cools through expansion and brought into contact with a ground source, so it can pick up heat from the warmer ground. To provide air conditioning, a reversing valve changes the direction of the heat flow.
In essence, the ground provides a constant temperature range for the circulating refrigerant. During the winter the system utilizes the warmer ground temperature, rather than the colder outdoor air used by a conventional heat pump. The geothermal heat pump does not have to run longer to heat the refrigerant made colder by outdoor temperatures, its refrigerant roughly maintains the same temperature of the underground all winter.
Although the geothermal heat pump does require electricity, the system provides greater efficiency than other alternative heating systems. The geothermal heat pump can produce as much as 4 kilowatts of heat for every 1 kilowatt of electricity. A reversing valve enables the system to change between heating mode and cooling, enabling the heat to move in both directions, and provide both heating and air conditioning according to the season.
Conventional air source heat pumps are the standard style most people are familiar with. In areas where the temperatures drop below a specific level, they rely on a back-up source of heat when the temperature drops below the heat pumps tolerance level. In recent years, the tolerance level has improved, from a prior tolerance of above freezing to -20 degrees in a number of modern systems. However, with temperatures in this subzero range, some efficiency is lost, but not so with a geothermal heat pump. The geothermal heat pump does not rely upon a specific outdoor temperature to operate optimally. It relies upon the ground temperature, which is a constant 45 to 55 degrees at 4 to 8 feet deep. With a consistent ground temperature, you always receive optimal conditions for your geothermal heating and air conditioning system.
The geothermal installation does require a bit of land ownership to install the pipes that utilize the ground temperature. However, you do not have to own a great deal of land to have the geothermal system. The pipes offer the versatility of vertical or horizontal installation. The horizontal field is less costly, but these do require adequate land for installation, whereas the vertical installation requires far less, but is more costly to install. Furthermore, for homeowner’s with a water source, such as a pond, it is possible to use the water source for the home’s geothermal heating and air conditioning rather than ground.
The cost of the geothermal system is the greatest disadvantage of a geothermal heat pump, primarily due to the cost of establishing the ground field and the required excavation or drilling depending upon the type of installation that you select.
However, when comparing the options for a new heating and air conditioning system, you should consider that geothermal systems have a much longer lifespan (20-25 years), and the loop field can last up to 50 years.
Furthermore, over time the geothermal heat pump can pay for themselves in energy savings. Homeowner’s may save as much as 70% on the cost of heating, and as much as 50% on the cost of air conditioning.
The geothermal system is a ground-sourced heat pump, and signs of problems in the system will be similar to those in any heat pump. Signs to watch for include rising energy costs, the loss of heating and air conditioning, or the icing of coils for example. Leaks to the ground loop are not common, and are more common in systems nearing or past the 50-year milestone.
There is no question of their efficiency and performance when properly installed by a qualified HVAC contractor. Currently, there are approximately one million geothermal units installed in the U.S., and each year the number grows. Consequential to homeowners’ saving on the cost of energy, is the environmental benefits of reducing carbon output. Already the United States carbon emission levels have dropped significantly from our various approaches of reduced emissions and carbon reduction programs of a wide variety. One home and one business at a time, we are making the world a cleaner, and better place and geothermal heat pumps are but one of the means we are achieving our goals.
Contact a Cypress professional for additional information regarding the geothermal heating and air conditioning system. We will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Cypress Heating and Air Conditioning’s certified HVAC technicians offer the expertise required for the proper installation of a geothermal heat pump, or other high efficiency HVAC systems. We serve Katy, Plano and the surrounding areas, and are a member of the BBB with a consistent A+ rating.