The technology employed in geothermal heating and cooling systems is not exactly new. In fact, this technology has been around for more than 50 years, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE). Ground source heating and cooling systems use the earth’s temperature as a medium of heat exchange. Statistics from the DOE show that such a system can attain energy efficiency of up to 600% in winter and 250% during the summer.
How Earth Coupled Systems Work
The ground underneath your feet tends to maintain a constant temperature. Depending on where you live, ground temperature can range from 45° F to 75° F. This means that it is much warmer underground than on the earth’s surface during summer and vice versa. A ground heat pump simply takes advantage of this fact to heat or cool a building. Nevertheless, it is not as simple as it sounds because there are different ways of tapping the earth’s heat. Below are the different types of ground heat source systems.
A horizontal geothermal heat pump system is easy to install and is the most cost effective for residential properties. It involves digging a trench about four feet deep and burying two pipes in it. One can lay these pipes side by side or bury one of the pipes a bit deeper (about six feet from the surface). Take note that these pipes form a complete loop. During winter, water flows from your home into the underground loop of pipes where it extracts heat from the ground. It then passes through heat pumps for purposes of extracting heat. Finally, the heat circulates inside your home making it warmer than the cold outdoors environment.
As the name suggests, this type of system involves installing an underground loop of pipes vertically. In terms of depth, such a system can range anywhere from 100 to 400 feet. Vertical GHPs are widely used in urban areas where land is scarce or areas where the existing soil is too shallow. They work in a similar manner to horizontal alternatives.
Pond or Lake System
If you live near a large body of water such as a lake or pond, you should consider this type of ground heat source system. It consists of a loop of pipes running from your home all the way to the bottom of the nearest water body. Once again, the aim of laying this loop of pipes is to harness the stable underground temperature and transfer it to your home in the form of heat.
Benefits of Installing an Earth Coupled System
Firstly, energy use can be cut by up to 80%. Secondly, the system is environmentally friendly. Thirdly, it is safe and relatively quiet. Fourthly, it does not generally require much work in terms of maintenance.
According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average American household consumes more than 11,000 kWh of electricity annually. One way of reducing energy use is by installing a geothermal system to draw heat from underground and use it to heat or cool your home.