Ground source heat pumps operate very much like a conventional heat pump, but with one important difference. Conventional heat pumps transfer heat between your home and the outside air, while ground source heat pumps transfer heat between your home and ordinary tap water in sealed, underground pipes.
Because the underground temperature remains a fairly constant 55°, the ground source heat pump can use the earth's temperature to keep your home comfortable - without generating heat or expending significant energy cooling your home.
During the winter, the ground source heat pump extracts heat from the ground and transfers warm air to your home. During the summer, heat is extracted from your house and transferred to the ground. The resulting cool air is then blown into your home. Since the temperature of the ground remains fairly constant throughout the year, ground source heat pumps are able to transfer heat using a relatively low amount of energy.
There are two types of ground source heat pumps - open well and closed loop systems. Open well systems pump water from a supply well through the heat pump and return it to the same aquifer once heat is transferred. A closed loop system uses a series of vertical and/or horizontal pipes buried in the ground. Water is circulated through the hundreds of feet of underground pipes.
Advantages Of Ground Source Heat Pumps
The ground source heat pump has several advantages over other systems. The ground source heat pump is 20% - 30% more efficient than other units. The ground source heat pump transfers heat underground, so the unit is out of sight, rather than situated outside your home. The fact that the unit is not exposed to the elements will also prolong its life and reduce repair frequency and costs. Some ground source heat pumps will even heat the domestic hot water in your house, saving up to 50% on your water heating bill. And since there is no need for an outdoor compressor or fan, the ground source heat pump is quieter than other systems.