The Simple Features and Functions of a Geothermal Heat Pump

One of the great things about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can break down– that much less to maintain. And that alone makes a big difference in reducing the overall energy costs of Grinnell homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.


That said, there are some moving parts in the system. Most of them are found in its most essential component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the engine that drives the system. Its role is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on the weather30. Thus, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner integrated into one compact package.

What, then, does a heat pump use to transfer heat? Water! Well, that or a solution containing antifreeze. This liquid flows through pipe loops buried underground and linked to the heat pump, which is positioned above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and from there the heat is dispensed throughout a home by either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season the process runs in reverse: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it to the earth by way of those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in the process, more than a few geothermal systems also supply domestic hot water.

The basic distinction between a geothermal heat pump and a typical furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t ignite fuel to generate heat. No, indeed, it takes heat that’s already present and just moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Be aware of this, too: underground temperatures almost always hold at around 50º F all year long. And that means? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires considerably less energy to cool your home than conventional air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system the best way to go for your Grinnell home? See this region’s geothermal wizards, the cordial gang at Latcham Enterprises.