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Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems

Geothermal heating and cooling systems, commonly called geothermal heat pumps, are an increasing popular, environmentally friendly way to regulate temperature in homes and buildings. Using the earth’s underground temperature for a source and “sink” of heating and cooling, these systems offer several advantages over other systems:

  • Although initially more expensive to install than convention heating/cooling units, geothermal systems offer low maintenance and less expensive operating costs.
    • They are low maintenance because all the equipment is enclosed or underground and not exposed to weather.
    • They have the highest energy efficiency for heating and cooling systems and require less electricity, even in locations with very hot or cold weather.
    Check with your utility company since many offer rebates and other financial incentives for installing a geothermal systems that can further lower the cost..
  • They provide a more constant, comfortable temperature year round, and because they operate continuously, there are no sudden cold or warm drafts often experienced in conventional systems.

Closed loop systems, where pipes are buried in the ground vertically or horizontally, use a food grade refrigerant that continuously circulates between house and ground. This refrigerant draws warmth from the earth during cold weather to heat the home and removes heat from the house and deposits (sinks) it into the earth for cooling during warm weather. A closed loop system is usually more efficient and thus needs less buried pipe, but if a leak occurs, the refrigerant can pollute the environment.

Open loop systems operate like the closed loop systems except they circulate water as the coolant and the “sinks” (where the used water must be deposited) are large, available bodies of water (such as a lake, stream or large capacity well). The two disadvantages to open loop systems are that they must meet EPA and other government requirements on returning the used water into the open body of water and clogging of the pipes can occur from extraneous materials in the water.

When choosing your system consider a unit that is Energy Star rated since they can provide additional operating savings.

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