Now that environmental concerns are on everybody’s minds, ground source heat pumps, also know as geothermal heat pumps are a subject of interest for home owners who want to do their part in cleaning up the world. Installing one of these devices in your home is another method people can use to contribute to the world wide movement of average people who take individual steps to preserve the natural world. Just like the practices of recycling or conserving water, using a geothermal heat pump for your home heating and cooling needs can significantly lessen the environmental footprint that you and your family members leave.
What is geothermal energy?
Ground source heat pumps are special heating and cooling systems that use heat from the ground to control temperature inside a structure. In winter, when homes and offices are chilled by the low air temperatures above ground, a geothermal heat pump will use the earth below a structure as a heat source.
Temperatures below ground do not change much with the weather. Twenty feet below ground level it remains somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees year round. Thus, during winter months, this subsurface soil can act as a geothermal energy heat source for the structures located above. In the summer, when it is much warmer above ground, geothermal heat pumps use this colder section of earth as a heat sink, depositing heat from a structure down below, leaving cooler air in its place.
In order to accomplish this exchange of temperatures, geothermal heat pumps must have devices known as heat exchangers in contact with the ground beneath the structure whose temperature they are intended to control.
They can extract heat deposited in the earth’s ground by solar energy from the sun rays several months earlier and use it to heat homes. In order to dissipate heat, these exchangers can also use contact points with groundwater to accomplish the same end. Some exchange systems use refrigerants or a mixture of antifreeze and water to create the same effect.
Geothermal energy facts
Geothermal heating units are very efficient. Their net thermal efficiency should be determined by comparing them to the efficiency of the processes used in generating and transmitting electricity. The latter has an efficiency rating of about 40 percent. A geothermal heating unit can move anywhere from three to five times more heat energy than the total electricity it consumes. This means that the output is greater than the input. This does not defy any laws of physics regarding conservation of energy because the heat pump is simply tapping into a nearly inexhaustible heat source.
Ground source heat pumps help the environment
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a home heating system using ground source heat pump technology is the most environmentally helpful and energy efficient way to fight the negative environmental impact of so much human activity. Experts estimate that the annual amount of greenhouse gases saved by using a geothermal heat pump rather than a highly efficient furnace in an average sized residence averages out to several tons per home. This is a huge savings derived by just one household.
Its because of these facts, ground source heat pumps are gaining popularity. They are useful in nearly all climates and during all seasons. Their increasing popularity is also helping to bring down their prices and make them more affordable and available to working class families throughout the world.
The following video helps to explain the concept of ground source heat pumps and geothermal technology:-