What are Geothermal Heat Pumps and How do they Work?
Geothermal heat pumps are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases, hot water. Because they use the earth’s natural heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies currently available.
A Geo heat pump not only heats your home during the winter, it also cools it during the summer. It does not burn fuel to produce heat nor does the electricity it consumes go through an element. The Geothermal heat pump functions on the same principle as refrigerators and air conditioners: A liquid absorbs heat as it turns into a gas and releases heat as it returns to a liquid state.
During the summer, the geothermal heat pump operates as a standard central air conditioner: It removes heat from the house and vents it to the outside. A liquid refrigerant is pumped through an evaporator coil of tubing. The liquid expands as it moves through the coil, changing to its gaseous state as it absorbs heat from the air surrounding the coil. A blower then pushes air around the cooled coil through ducts and into the house. The gas, now carrying considerable heat, moves through a compressor and begins the liquefying process. It then moves to a condenser coil outside the house, where the compressed gas releases its heat and returns to a liquid state.
During the winter, the Geo heat pump reverses this process, extracting heat from the cold air outside and releasing it inside the house. The geothermal heat pump is very efficient when the outside temperature is around 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but it becomes less efficient as the temperature drops. When the outside air temperature is very low, an auxiliary electric heater must be used to supplement the Geo heat pump’s output.
Like standard electric heating systems, this auxiliary unit is more expensive to operate. Thus, in areas where the winter temperature is below freezing, a Geo heat pump is not practical. It has few advantages over conventional heating systems in areas where air conditioning is not necessary, but it is very efficient in warm to hot climates.
Geo Heat pump maintenance is very important. Sign up for a preventative maintenance plan today, to ensure your Geo heat pump runs optimally all year round. Small problems that are not addressed early can lead to very expensive compressor problems later. And since maintaining a Geo heat pump is more technical than caring for the average heating system, you should call on James River Air’s qualified heating and air specialists when the heat pump malfunctions. But you can, however, keep the heating and cooling system free of dirt and debris by keeping the filter clean and removing any other obstacles that block the flow of air.