Heating your home with a geothermal system in the winter might strike you as implausible. Cold weather freezes the ground, which raises the question of how much heat can actually be transferred from the ground to your home. The answer is quite a bit. Low outside temperatures and frozen ground have no impact on a geothermal system. Only a few feet below the surface, the Earth holds a nearly constant temperature of roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Such a temperature is more than sufficient for a geothermal heat pump to transfer heat from underground and keep your home comfortable.
How a Geothermal Heat Pump Works
Liquid solutions called refrigerants accomplish the transfer of heat within a heat pump. Refrigerant solutions can be shifted between gaseous and liquid states with small applications of energy. The compressor within a heat pump alters the pressurization of the refrigerant so that it can either collect heat energy or release it. Refrigerant under high pressure gets warmer, and refrigerant under low pressure gets cooler.
A geothermal heat pump moves refrigerant between your home and the long pipes buried underground. These pipes go deep enough to reach the areas where the temperature remains more or less constant. The compressor, expansion valve, and condenser within the system manage the pressurization and movement of refrigerant. Depressurized refrigerant sent underground can transfer heat from the Earth as long as the refrigerant is cooler than the ground.
After collecting heat into the refrigerant, the system moves it out of the ground and applies more pressure. This raises the temperature more and supplies heat for distribution in the home. After delivering heat energy to the home, the refrigerant flows outside under reduced pressure so that it can collect heat underground again.
Much Better Than Air-Source Heat Pumps
The steady 55-degree environment underground allows a geothermal heat pump to outperform an air-source heat pump in cold climates. An air-source heat pump exchanges heat energy with the outdoor air instead of the ground. When temperatures go down to about 30 degrees, air-source heat pumps begin to lose efficiency and heating capacity.
For that reason, an air-source heat pump needs a backup heating system, like a gas furnace. Otherwise, a home could become cold during severe winter temperatures. A geothermal system does not have to face this situation. No matter how cold it is above ground, the geothermal lines where the heat exchange occurs are always at a temperature that allows for efficient heat capture.
The heat pump in a geothermal system never has to contend with temperatures anywhere near the range when results begin to diminish. Although the precise underground temperature at your location might vary from the 55-degree mark because of the soil type, the temperature will remain close enough to this temperature for a geothermal system to perform properly.
The energy efficiency of a geothermal system normally attracts the interest of people. Depending on your location and home size, geothermal operating costs could be 20% to 70% lower than conventional heating and cooling technology. The variability of local electricity rates accounts for much of the differences in cost savings when comparing geothermal to other types of systems.
The efficiency results from the lack of fuel inputs to create heat. The system only uses electricity to run the equipment. As a result, one unit of electric power can yield four times the amount of heat compared to an oil or gas furnace. Because geothermal does not burn any gas or oil at your home, you also avoid concerns about exhaust fumes that contain carbon monoxide.
With a 400% energy return on energy investment, geothermal beats the efficiency of even a high-efficiency gas furnace. A high-efficiency gas furnace only achieves about 95 percent efficiency per energy unit consumed. A geothermal system is literally more than four times more efficient than a gas furnace.
The impressive energy efficiency of geothermal heat pumps makes them a green technology. They only use relatively small amounts of electricity and never require direct fossil fuel inputs. Conceivably, a geothermal system running on solar or wind-produced electricity would produce very little pollution.
System Size Matters
Like any heating and cooling technology, equipment size, and capacity matters in terms of energy efficiency and maintenance of home comfort. The variables that determine how to size a system include:
- Home size
- Local climate
- Soil type
A system that is too small simply cannot transfer enough heat from underground to deal with the cold temperatures at the surface. In such a situation, a homeowner would lose energy efficiency and have to rely on an alternative heat source.
A correctly sized geothermal system, however, avoids problems with inefficiency and inadequate heat. In Greenville, WI, Black-Haak has the expertise to build a geothermal system that fully meets your heating and cooling needs. We have over a decade of experience with this technology that has proven itself to perform well during harsh Wisconsin winters.
We’ve built hundreds of geothermal systems and can manage every detail. Our well-trained technicians can evaluate your property and calculate the size that a system needs to be to keep you comfortable for decades to come. We oversee the excavation work as well as installing all of the technical components of the heat pump. If you’re planning new construction or a home remodel, a consultation with us about geothermal heat could result in reduced utility bills for years to come.
Will Geothermal Heat Feel Comfortable?
You may find lower utility bills and reduced pollution due to avoidance of on-site fossil fuel consumption appealing, but how will geothermal heat feel? In this regard, geothermal heat performs famously. It provides consistent comfort throughout your home due to constant operation. The system runs continually and thereby maintains a constant temperature in your home. You will not have to wait for the furnace to click on. The slight variations in interior temperature that you experience as a furnace waits for the thermostat to activate the heat are absent with geothermal. You get a warm home while the system sips electricity.
Highly Experienced Professionals at Your Service
We understand that heating and cooling technology represents a significant investment in your home. Our technicians can work on all makes and models of air conditioners and furnaces in addition to geothermal heat pumps. The maintenance and repairs that we perform can extend the life of the equipment. Keeping your system in top condition will resolve problems like unreasonably high power bills and ups and downs in your home’s temperature. Whenever you need a new heating or cooling equipment, trust us to complete safe installations.
Black-Haak is also a source for licensed plumbers and electricians. We can fix leaking pipes, replace a water heater, wire in a new light fixture, install a generator, and much more. In many cases, we can provide same-day service. We’ve been in business since 1956 and guarantee 100% satisfaction for our customers. Contact us today.