Geothermal Heating: Harnessing the Earth's Energy for Your Home

Thermostats with text: "control warmth with programmable thermostats"

The temperature right below the earth’s surface is warmer than the average winter temperature and cooler than typical summer temps. Through heat waves and blizzards, the earth maintains a constant temperature range of 55 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, just five feet below its surface in most cases, and this is what powers geothermal heating and cooling.

How Geothermal Heating Works

We know the earth represents the geothermal heating system's heat source. But how does geothermal heating work?

A series of pipes known as a geothermal heat exchanger is installed underground to harness this heat. Producing heat is a straightforward process that entails the following:

  • A water solution circulates through the heat exchanger.
  • As the fluid reaches the pipe’s lowest point, it absorbs heat from the ground.
  • The heated fluid is pumped back to the surface.
  • The heated fluid runs through a heat exchanger, transferring the heat to warm the air that is circulated through a series of ducts into the home.

Other styles of geothermal heating add another step that heats water at the surface, which then heats the air. Geothermal cooling is the reverse of this process, shedding heat instead of absorbing it.

Environmental Benefits

Geothermal heating and cooling offers many environmental benefits, including:

  • Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Electricity rather than gas, oil, or coal is used.
  • Energy Efficiency: Geothermal systems produce four to five units of heat for each unit of electricity used.
  • Renewable Resource: Geothermal energy is nearly limitless and consistent.
  • Small Land Footprint: Most of the equipment is installed underground.
  • Reduced Air and Water Pollution: Geothermal systems produce minimal to no pollution.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems are better for the environment than conventional systems. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “Geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption and emissions up to 44% compared to air-source heat pumps and 72% compared to standard air-conditioning equipment.”

Cost Savings Over Time

In addition to significant benefits to the environment, geothermal heating and cooling also has a big impact on your wallet in a few different ways, including:

  • Lower Utility Bills: Geothermal units provide 30-70% utility savings over conventional heating and 20-50% over conventional air conditioning.
  • Lengthy Equipment Lifespan: Geothermal heat pumps typically last 20-25 years when properly installed and maintained, while ground loops last more than 50 years.
  • Less Expensive Maintenance: Although geothermal heating systems should have annual maintenance, they are not likely to need repairs as often as others, as there are fewer moving parts to break down.
  • Government Incentives: The Inflation Reduction Act offers homeowners significant savings in tax credits and rebates for upgrading their energy efficiency with geothermal systems.

While the initial investment required for geothermal systems remains higher than for conventional HVAC systems, they provide significant savings over the life of the system.

Types of Geothermal Systems

Geothermal heating systems can be broadly categorized into two types: open-loop and closed-loop systems:

  • Open Loop Systems use groundwater from a well to extract heat from the earth. Water is pumped from the well through the heating system and then discharged back into the aquifer from which it was drawn.
  • Closed Loop Systems continually circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze through the pipe system.

Open-loop geothermal heating and cooling systems are ideal where clean groundwater is abundant. In other locations, closed-loop systems are best. The location and manner of the pipework in closed-loop systems can be adapted to the land resources available.

Installation Process

Installing a geothermal system varies depending on the land resources available to you. That determines whether an open loop or closed loop is best. Further, it informs the decision on whether to install the pipework in a vertical or horizontal loop. You will need skilled HVAC professionals trained in geothermal installation to evaluate your property and install your system. Aire Serv®’s comprehensive HVAC services include installing, maintaining, and repairing all geothermal equipment.

When we install your geothermal heating and cooling system, we handle all the required permits and abide by all regulations. We conduct the necessary drilling and trenching to install the pipework and backfilling afterward. We always leave your property as neat and tidy as we found it (or more so!). If you are integrating geothermal heating with an existing HVAC system, we will make any needed modifications so the two work together seamlessly.

Geological Considerations

Geothermal heating is highly effective in any climate. When considering the system’s feasibility in your home, the primary considerations are land availability and soil composition.

  • Land Availability: Farmhouses or any residence with abundant land can install horizontal loops, which are less expensive than vertical loops, though they take up more land. A vertical loop is necessary where homes are built close together, which is a higher initial cost/investment that should be recovered over time.
  • Soil Composition: Different soils conduct heat differently, so this affects the size of the loop required. Sandy soil is less conductive than heavy clay soil and requires larger pipework loops.

The presence of existing underground utilities, sewer pipes, and similar obstructions are factored into the permitting and installation process.

Comfort and Consistency

In addition to the substantial energy savings, lower utility bills, extended equipment lifespan, and reduced need for repairs, geothermal heating contributes to your family’s comfort. There are no unsightly outdoor units to try to camouflage, and the systems perform in silence, with any noise muffled by the earth. You’ll enjoy consistent heating and cooling, benefit the environment, reduce your carbon footprint, and save on your monthly energy bills.

Is Geothermal Heating and Cooling Right for You?

Geothermal heating offers homeowners many benefits, from pure comfort to cost savings, tax credits, rebates, and reducing their carbon footprint. We urge you to explore the topic further. Call on your local Aire Serv experts to assess your home and determine if geothermal is right for your family.

You can rely on Aire Serv for prompt, friendly service and expertly performed work done right the first time. That’s the Neighborly Done Right Promise.

Request an appointment today and start breathing easy with Aire Serv!