Geothermal Heating – How it Works
Geothermal heating usually uses the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium that is used for heating and not outside air temperature. This kind of heating attains fairly high efficiencies of about 300% to 600% compared to heating by air source heat pumps that attain efficiencies of about 175% to 250%.
The heat is carried from the ground to inside of the house using heat pumps. The heat pump found outdoors is called a condenser while the one found indoors is called an evaporator. The substance that carries the heat from the ground to the inside of the house is called a refrigerant. When it is compressed, the refrigerant becomes a high temperature, high pressure liquid. The liquid expands and then turns into low temperature, low pressure gas which then absorbs heat.
Geothermal heating is one of the most energy efficient science and technology related heating methods. It is also the most reliable and unique heating method available in today’s green market. The heat generated is renewable and non-polluting, and since the underground temperature is maintained at a relative constant throughout the seasons, you will have a steady supply of heat to keep your home comfortable, even in the coldest winter.
From a single geothermal heat pump, a part from heating, you can also get other services such as air conditioning for your home. The standard geothermal equipment applications include forced air, boiler unit, radiant floor system, home’s ventilation system and a fan coil. Since geothermal heating involves transfer of heat energy from the surface of the earth, you will hardly find any noise like it is when using air conditioners or heaters to cool your rooms.
You will save a considerable amount of electricity when using geothermal heating. Even though you may spend a bit heavily when you are installing the geothermal heating systems, the long term benefits you will get will justify the initial investment you made.
To make sure that the geothermal heat pumps function efficiently, seasonal thermal energy storage and inter-seasonal heat transfer can be used. With these mechanisms, the heat that is captured and stored in thermal banks during the hot season can be retrieved efficiently during the cold season. This will be very important especially in places where heat is stored and consumed in large scale, for instance commercial and district heating systems. As for the small heat pump installations, their efficiency can be improved by adding large, cheap as well as water-filled solar collectors.
Another good thing about geothermal heating is that geothermal heat pumps are durable and they require very little maintenance. Their mechanical components are not many compared to other systems, and most of these components are usually underground where they are sheltered from weather. The underground pipes have been estimated to last about 25 to 50 years without getting spoilt. The components that are found inside the house are small and you can easily access them for maintenance.