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The Science Behind Geothermal and How It Keeps You Cool

Because geothermal HVAC systems aren’t as common as air-source or water-source heat pumps, many people don’t know how they work or what they can do. The truth is, geothermal heat pumps heat and cool your home with more efficiency and use less energy than other types of systems do. Because geothermal heat pumps take advantage of the consistent temperature deep within the earth, they’re a smart, green way to stay cool in Hendersonville, North Carolina, this summer.

Your Introduction to Geothermal

The name geothermal is apt: the prefix geo indicates a relationship to the earth, and the word thermal mean “relating to heat.” Thus, a geothermal heat pump is a temperature control system that relies on the temperatures in the earth to heat and cool your home. Even though the word thermal indicates heat, geothermal heat pumps can also cool because they use a heat exchange process, which can work in either direction depending on the season.

What Geothermal Is

A geothermal heat pump consists of a loop that’s buried underground and connects to your HVAC system. The loop is filled with water, which gets cycled throughout the system. The water carries the heat the system will use, either infusing the system’s air with heat from the ground during the winter or taking heat from the air and pushing it into the ground during the summer. It works very similarly to a typical HVAC system, but it gets the heat for the exchange process from the ground instead of the ambient air.

People like geothermal because it’s quiet and easy to maintain. The earth loops themselves don’t usually require maintenance, and they can last for decades without wearing out. The rest of the system works the way an HVAC system does, dispensing cold and hot air into your home, and requires typical HVAC maintenance. Geothermal systems are also greener than many alternative methods.

The Heat Exchange Geothermal Relies On

A typical HVAC system has to take hot air from outside and expend energy cooling it with refrigerant so that it will circulate through your house and drop the overall temperature. The HVAC system also ejects the heat from the heat exchange into the air outside. (The same thing happens when you need heat, but in reverse.) The way your HVAC system does this is via a heat exchange, and when the starting temperature is drastically different from the finishing temperature, that heat exchange requires more energy.

The temperature underground is quite consistent at about 50 degrees year round, as long as the geothermal loops are buried deep enough. Because the ground temperature isn’t as extreme as outdoor air temperatures, the geothermal system doesn’t use as much energy in the heat exchange process. That’s why it’s more efficient and able to keep you as cool as you need to be during the summer.

Geothermal Misconceptions and Truths

Now you know that geothermal doesn’t just heat your home, even though it’s technically called a “heat pump.” Geothermal systems will keep you cool all summer long. Some people believe geothermal systems need to be installed near natural hot springs to work. That’s not true; as long as you have deep enough soil on your property, you should be able to install one without any problems. The water table in your area won’t get in the way, either. The loops can run through the water table without any effect to the way the system works.

You may also be interested to know that you may qualify for a tax credit if you install a geothermal system, since many states offer tax incentives for green energy sources. Geothermal systems can be expensive upfront, but in the long run you’ll recoup your costs and them some.

If you’d like to learn more about geothermal heat pumps, let us be your resource. Nicholson Company will give you a free estimate on a geothermal heat pump for your home, and we’re here to help you figure out if geothermal will work for your specific situation. Call us today at 828-697-2638.