Geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground source heat pumps (GSHP), actually utilize the ground as a heat source in cold weather, and a heat sink in warm weather. These centralized heating and cooling systems take full advantage of the constant temperatures below ground to maximize efficiency of the units and the costs for cooling and heating a building or home. Often combined with solar heating for even greater efficiency and sustainable use, GSHP popularity is increasing rapidly. In fact, estimates tell us there are now over a million worldwide, with a 10% annual growth rate.
Other names for these systems are earth energy systems, earth-coupled, and geoexchange. Depending upon the location, the Earth has a constant temperature between 50 and 60 degrees just 20 feet below the surface, which heats and cools by transferring that energy. Much like other pumps, a vapor-compression loop transfers the heat from the ground.
More efficient than air-source pumps because the exchange is within the ground at constant temperatures, they pump the warmth from the ground in winter and transfer it back into that same ground for summer cooling. Though more expensive to setup, these GSHP systems typically pay for themselves in just a few years. These systems have a life expectancy of 25 years for internal parts, and at least 50 years for those in the ground.
Low operational costs for GSHP vary based on electricity costs, but homeowners typically see savings in the 20% to 60% range. Additionally, Hyde-Whipp offers incentives & rebates for adding one of these systems.