Everything You Need to Know About Geothermal

Everything You Need to Know About Geothermal

Are you looking to upgrade to a more energy-efficient, cost-effective HVAC system? Perhaps you’re building a new house and want to minimize your carbon footprint? Then it’s time to consider installing a geothermal heating and cooling system in your Minnesota home.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about geothermal heat pumps. Learn about how they work, financial installation incentives, and the benefits of using geothermal energy to heat and cool your home.

What Is a Geothermal Heating System?

A geothermal heating and cooling system has three major components: a ground loop, a ground-source heat pump, and an HVAC system that distributes warm and cool air. The first two components — the ground loop and heat pump — are what make this remarkably energy-efficient heating and cooling system so unique.

Here’s a breakdown of each system component:

Ground Loop

The ground loop of a geothermal system can be either horizontal or vertical in nature, depending on the amount of space available for installation. This loop contains a thermally conductive liquid solution that absorbs heat energy (BTUs) contained within the earth.

Ground-Source Heat Pump

The heat pump component of a geothermal system is responsible for mechanically circulating heat-conducting solution through the ground loop. It also concentrates heat energy carried by the thermally conductive solution and transfers that heat into the air. The heat pump functions similarly to cool the home, but the process happens in reverse.

HVAC System (Thermostat and Ductwork)

The HVAC components of a geothermal system work much the same way they do for a traditional heating and cooling system. The thermostat serves to control the temperature of the air that the heat pump generates, and the ductwork serves to distribute warm or cool air throughout the home.

How Does Geothermal Energy Work?

Geothermal energy works by tapping into the heat energy stored beneath the surface of the earth. The earth is constantly absorbing heat from the sun, and it stores that heat energy underground. As a result, the subsurface temperature of the ground remains relatively constant year round. A geothermal system relies on that consistent temperature to heat and cool your home.

The ground loop, geothermal heat pump, thermostat, and duct system all work in concert to either transfer ground-source heat into your home or pull airborne heat out of your home.

Here’s a quick overview of how the system functions:

  • The geothermal heat pump circulates thermally conductive fluid through the ground loop buried beneath your lawn.
  • When you set the thermostat to heating, the thermally conductive fluid inside the ground loop absorbs heat energy that’s stored within the earth.
  • That fluid circulates into the heat pump, where it exchanges its heat energy with refrigerant. The pump then compresses the resulting vapor until it reaches the desired temperature and a heat exchanger transfers the warm air into the duct system and ultimately, into your home.
  • When you set your thermostat to cooling, the process happens in reverse. The heat pump pulls heat from the air inside your home and transfers it to the thermally conductive fluid inside the ground loop.
  • The fluid then circulates into the ground where it deposits the heat from your home into the earth.

Because a geothermal heating and cooling system relies entirely on heat energy stored beneath the earth's surface, it operates at 300%-600% efficiency year round. Whether it’s freezing or sweltering outdoors, a geothermal system will keep your home at a comfortable temperature without costing you a fortune.

Benefits of Geothermal System Installation

What do you stand to gain when you install a ground-source heat pump in your Minnesota home? Just a few of the many benefits of geothermal system installation include:

  • Reduced heating and cooling expenses. Once installed, a geothermal heating and cooling system requires very little electricity and can reduce your monthly energy bills by up to 65%, depending on your household usage.
  • No noisy, bulky, maintenance-heavy units. Unlike a traditional HVAC system, a geothermal system doesn’t have any huge, noisy units that generate warm and cool air. The ground loop and heat pump require periodic maintenance, but they’re basically hidden from view and can last decades with proper care.
  • Financial kickbacks after installation. When you install an energy-efficient geothermal system, you can take advantage of federal tax credits and local utility incentives and rebates that can save you thousands.
  • Increased home value. Having a remarkably energy-efficient heating and cooling system can be a very attractive selling point should you ever choose to put your home on the market.
  • Safer heating and cooling operation. With no need for fuel or potentially hazardous refrigerants, a geothermal system operates much more safely than a traditional furnace or air conditioner. There’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, fires, or explosions with a ground-source heat pump.
  • Reduced carbon footprint. As the most environmentally friendly heating and cooling system on the planet, geothermal is kind to the earth. It’s the only system that produces zero exhaust, which means it makes a big difference in the size of your household’s carbon footprint.

Ready to Make the Switch to Geothermal? Schedule a Consultation With The Comfort Company

Ready to find out if installing a geothermal heat pump is the right choice for your Duluth area home? Get in touch with our team at The Comfort Company to schedule a consultation today! We specialize in full-service geothermal installations and can perform a household energy audit and site evaluation to help you determine your geothermal system options.

If you own a home in Duluth, the Twin Cities, or northwest Wisconsin, give us a call today to get started! You can reach our office at 218-231-4436 or send us a message with your information, and we’ll get in touch!