What Does the Term Geothermal Mean?
Because of the ongoing debate about climate change and energy policy, most people are more aware than ever of the options for energy that aren't fossil fuel-based. One of the things that often gets overlooked, however, are the options that are available for small-scale installations for homes. Geothermal is commonly advertised as a renewable energy source for grid-scale installations, but it also has massive benefits for reducing energy usage for homes.
Geothermal means "earth's heat." The earth's core is made of molten rock that generates heat miles below the surface that one can use for grid-scale energy generation. For smaller systems, like geothermal heating and cooling systems, geothermal simply means tapping into the stable temperatures underneath the ground, between 8 and 500 feet deep, as a source of energy or a heat sink.
How Do Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems Work?
A geothermal heating and cooling system are similar to a heat pump, except it uses physics to accomplish the same thing more efficiently. In a heat pump and geothermal system, heat is absorbed into the refrigerant in a coil as air passes over it. At that point, the refrigerant has to move the heat either indoors or outdoors, depending on the season. One must remove the heat so the refrigerant can be recycled and used again to heat and cool the home. The main difference between geothermal systems and heat pumps is where the heat ends up, either in the air or in the earth.
Geothermal systems still use blowers and ductwork like a conventional heating and cooling system. The main difference is a group loop system and a pump that circulates water through the ground loop to deposit or absorb heat. This makes them incredibly more efficient than any other heating and cooling system, with the only slight disadvantage being the higher upfront cost of digging the group loop.
Types of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
The ground loop is the biggest feature of a geothermal system, and four different types exist to accommodate factors like climate, soil type, and space. The four types of ground loops are:
- Horizontal: Theis cheap buried closed-loop option is useful in areas with ample space.
- Vertical: Requires drilling holes up to 400 feet deep. These closed-loop systems are great for places with limited space for ground loops.
- Pond: This is the cheapest option if ponds are available because no excavation is required. Pipes are simply run in loops through the existing pond to act as a heat sink.
- Open-Loop: These require a well with ample supplies of clean water. They can be a great option if no other options are available.
Benefits of Geothermal Systems
Geothermal systems are more expensive upfront, but the benefits make up for this. Geothermal systems are 400% more efficient than other cooling systems, including heat pumps. Some of the reasons why they are consistently chosen in new construction are:
- Energy savings
- Eco-friendly operation
- Quiet operation
- Fewer repairs
- Greater longevity
- Consistent comfort
About Easco Air Conditioning and Heating
Easco Air Conditioning and Heating have over 30 years of experience helping its clients understand heating and cooling efficiency. As local geothermal experts, they offer honest recommendations and emergency services. Call today for upfront pricing on geothermal installations in Conroe, TX.
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