Geothermal Brings Energy That Much Closer to Free

Among the many strategies to improve the performance and comfort of buildings in the United States, geothermal heat pumps are growing fast as an economical alternative to more expensive measures. According to the Department of Energy, geothermal pumps can completely replace traditional heating and cooling systems by leveraging the literal power of the temperature of the ground underneath a building. This way, a building can be temperature controlled without relying completely on external energy from gas or electricity.

How Does Geothermal Work?

In general, a geothermal heat pump works by transferring heat from one location to another. These pumps work in most locations because the baseline temperature of the ground is fairly constant-typically between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, water (the transfer medium), which is at a warmer ground temperature than the outside air, is pumped up through the ground in a closed loop and transferred into the system and used to heat the building. In the summer, using the exact same ground loop, the building system transfers heat into the ground, and cools the building.

Using a Geothermal Heat Pump Year-Round

There are three main components to a ground source heat pump:

  1. The Ground Loop: in our case, we have 36 vertical wells, each 400 feet deep that use the earth as both a heat source and heat sink to transfer energy by circulating water through the ground. In the winter, the loop gathers warmth from the loop, and in summer, the loop dissipates it.
  2. The Heat Pump: similar to the standard air exchange heat pump on many houses, the heat pump uses the water/medium from the ground loop for the exchange, transferring the energy from the ground to the building.
  3. The Distribution System: a geothermal heat pump system will use the same kind of Air Handler Unit (AHU) that a standard heat pump uses, only using the water/medium from the ground source to distribute warm or cool air to the ducts and throughout the building.

Because the ‘weather’ doesn’t change underground, a geothermal loop can provide extremely reliable and consistent heat exchange year-round! At Neighborhood Development Company, we are committed to the environment and proudly feature geothermal solutions in some of our major projectsContact us to learn more about how our buildings are innovative in terms of energy consumption and other eco-friendly systems and features.

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