A geothermal heat pump uses the earth’s constant temperature to heat and cool buildings efficiently, using very little energy to operate. The heat pump actually works very simply by moving heat from one place to another and has three basic parts:
- A heat exchanger which is usually a loop of pipes buried 4-6 feet in the ground. While the surface temperature of the earth fluctuates, that far down the temperature remains fairly constant. The pipes are full of a liquid heat-absorbing medium, usually a mixture of antifreeze and water.
- The heat pump unit moves the liquid in the pipes to transfer heat or cold between the outside and inside and compresses it, condensing it down. In the winter, it will remove warmth from the surrounding earth, releasing it indoors to heat the building, and in the summer, it will reverse the process and absorb heat from indoors releasing it outdoors, efficiently bringing down the temperature in the building.
- The duct work and air delivery system transfer the heated or cooled air to the living places of the building. It is very important to have well-sealed and insulated duct work, or you can be leaking some of your energy savings back into the outdoors before it reaches your desired living space.
Because the heat pump capitalizes on the earth’s constant temperature, it is known as “free energy,” because you only have to use electricity operate the system such as turning the fan or pumping the heat exchange liquid. This allows them to be much more energy efficient than traditional models for the same amount of heat or cooling. Since geothermal heat pumps don’t rely on a fossil fuel, they are excellent for the environment, and have a minimal carbon footprint.
As an added benefit, heat pumps require very little maintenance when installed correctly, and only require a periodic check of the air filter and fans to keep bringing in the energy savings.
For more information on a geothermal heat pump and how it works contact Air Flex Heating and Cooling Ltd. We’ve been serving the Toronto area since 1994.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Toronto area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about geothermal heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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