Category Archives: Geothermal

Geothermal Heat Pump

Beginning in the 1970s, geothermal heat pumps came into common use. Geothermal heat pumps provide central air conditioning as well as heating as a matter of course. And they are installation-cost competitive with a central combustion furnace/central air conditioner combination.

Geothermal heat pumps operate by moving or transferring heat, rather than creating it. During the winter months, the geothermal heat pump refrigerant captures heat from outdoor air, compresses it and releases this warm air inside the home or business. During the summer, the process is reversed; the geothermal heat pump refrigerant captures heat from inside the home or business and transfers it to the pipes buried in the Earth.

Much less electricity is used to move heat rather than create it, making geothermal heat pumps more economical than resistance heating.  Because they are working from those constant earth temperatures, the system provides more even temperatures throughout your home resulting in ultimate comfort to you and your family.

Depending on climate, geothermal heat pumps (including their supplementary resistance heat) are about 1.5 to 3 times more efficient than resistance heating alone. Operating efficiency has improved since the 70s, making their operating cost generally competitive with combustion-based systems, depending on local fuel prices. Another advantage to this system – there is no outdoor unit – thus no concern about outdoor noise.

GEO Exchange

Geothermal Information

Ground source heat pump technology is the wave of the future, but the concept isn’t new at all. In fact, Lord Kelvin developed the concept of the heat pump in 1852. In the late 1940’s, Robert C. Webber, a cellar inventor, was experimenting with his deep freezer. He dropped the temperature in the freezer and touched the outlet pipe and almost burned his hand. He realized heat was being thrown away, so he ran outlets from his freezer to his boilers and provided his family with more hot water than they could use! There was still wasted heat, so he piped hot water through a coil and used a small fan to distribute heat through the house to save coal. Mr. Webber was so pleased with the results that he decided to build a full size heat pump to generate heat for the entire home. Mr. Webber also came up with the idea to pump heat from underground, where the temperature doesn’t vary much throughout the year. Copper tubing was placed in the ground and Freon gas ran through the tubing to gather the ground heat. The gas was condensed in the cellar, gave off its heat and forced the expanded gas to go through the ground coil to pick up another load. Air was moved by a fan and distributed into the home. The next year, Mr. Webber sold his old coal furnace.

In the forties, the heat pump was known for its superior efficiency. The efficiency was especially useful in the seventies. The Arab oil embargo awakened conservation awareness and geothermal launched interest in energy conservation despite cheap energy prices. That is when Dr. James Bose, professor at Oklahoma State University, came across the heat pump concept in an old engineering text. Dr. Bose used the ideas to help a homeowner whose heat pump was dumping scalding water into his pool. Dr. Bose fashioned the heat pump to circulate the water through the pipes instead of dumping the water into the pool. This was the beginning of the new era in geothermal systems. Dr. Bose returned to Oklahoma State University and began to develop his idea. Since then, Oklahoma has become the center of ground source heat pump research and development. The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association was formed in Oklahoma, and is based on the campus of Oklahoma State University, where Dr. Bose severs as executive director.

Geo Exchange Systems

More recently, even more advanced and efficient heating and cooling systems have emerged using the geoexchange process. Sometimes called geothermal or ground-source heat pumps, these geoexchange systems move or transfer heat like the air-source heat pumps. However, they exchange heat with the earth rather than the outdoor air.Heat Pumps operate by moving or transferring heat, rather than create it. During the winter the heat pump captures heat from outdoor air, compresses it and releases this warm air inside the home or business. During the summer the process is reversed; the heat pump captures heat from inside a home or business and transfers it to the outdoor air through the condensing unit.Since earth temperature remains relatively constant throughout the year, geoexchange systems operate more efficiently than air-source heat pumps and generally without the use of resistance heat. And because they are working from those constant earth temperatures, there are no blasts of hot air or “cold blow” as with other systems.

Nearly all geoexchange systems on the market have the ability to provide low-cost domestic hot water, further increasing their operating efficiency. Thus, geoexchange systems are generally 2.5 to 4 or more times more efficient than resistance heating and water heating alone, and have no combustion or indoor air pollutants.

Since there is no outdoor unit, you do not have to worry about any property line restrictions or outdoor noise with a geoexchange system.

Although their installation cost is somewhat higher due to the required underground connections for heat transfer to and from the earth, geoexchange systems provide VERY LOW operation cost, low maintenance, greater comfort and proves to ADD value to your home.

Although their installation cost is somewhat higher for a geoexchange system due to the required underground connections for heat transfer to and from the earth, geoexchange systems provide low operating and maintenance cost with greater comfort.

Per Climate Masters, provider of Carrier geothermal heat pumps, “The environmental advantages of geoexchange systems have caught the eye of governmental agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Because geothermal technology is lowest in CO² emissions, it provides a solution to global warming by primarily using the natural energy of the earth. Puron® (R-410a) zero ozone depletion refrigerant is available for Carrier geothermal heat pumps for an even friendlier system.”

lightbulb illuminatedHOW Geoexchange and Geothermal Systems Benefits the Homeowner, the Builder, the Architect/Engineer:

  • LOW UTILITY BILLS: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) geothermal systems are, “the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective space conditioning systems available today”.
  • FLEXIBILITY: You get heating, central air conditioning, and domestic hot water….three important benefits from a single unit all working together to save you BIG DOLLARS!
  • COMFORT: A system that automatically adjusts to satisfy changing weather conditions by using advanced Two-Stage compressors and an air delivery systems that responds to your comfort needs.
  • SAFE AND CLEAN: No flame, no flue, no odors and no danger of fumes. The environmental advantage of geothermal systems have caught the eye of governmental agencies such as the EPA and the Department of Energy (DOE). Because geothermal technology is lowest in CO² emissions, it provides a solution to global warming by primarily using the natural energy of the earth. Puron® (R-410A) zero ozone depletion refrigerant is available for an even friendlier system.
  • NOISE FREE OPERATION: Unlike traditional air conditioners or heat pumps, geothermal systems have no noisy outdoor fans to disturb you or your neighbor.
  • LONG SYSTEM LIFE: The elegant yet durable design ensures long life, dependable operation and low maintenance. All residential air coils are specifically treated for longevity.
  • LONGEVITY OF THE LOOP: Geothermal earth loops (the pipes that are buried in the ground) are made from high density polyethylene. These pipes have a 50 Year Warranty and have a life expectancy of several hundred years. They do not rust, rot or corrode.

Geothermal Systems

-Courtesy of the GeoExchange.com
Central heating systems have been considered a necessity in our homes and businesses for many years. When comparing available systems, consumers should carefully consider safety, installation cost, operating costs, maintenance costs, and comfort.

Types of Systems
There are two basic types of systems — those that require a flame to operate (i.e., combustion based), and those that do not. Most central systems presently installed create heat by combustion, just as they did in the early part of the century. These systems use a furnace to burn a fossil fuel (such as oil, natural gas or propane) or, in some instances, wood. More advanced, non-combustion systems operate by transferring or moving heat from one location to another.

Heat Pumps

Geothermal FAQ

What is a geothermal heat pump?

A geothermal or “ground-source” heat pump is an electrically powered device that uses the natural heat storage ability of the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater to heat and cool your home or business.

How does it work?

Like any type of heat pump, it simply moves heat energy from one place to another. Your refrigerator works using the same scientific principle. By using refrigeration, the geothermal heat pump removes heat energy stored in the earth and/or the earth’s groundwater and transfers it to the home.

How is heat transferred between the Earth and the home?

The earth has the ability to absorb and store heat energy. To use that stored energy, heat is extracted from the earth through a liquid medium (water or an anti-freeze solution) and is pumped to the heat pump heat exchanger. There, the heat is used to heat your home. In summer the process is reversed and indoor heat is extracted from your home and transferred to the earth through the liquid.

You mentioned heating & cooling. Does it do both?

One of the things that makes a heat pump so versatile is its ability to be a heating and cooling system in one. A geothermal heat pump can also assist in heating hot water year-round.

Do I need separate ground loops for heating & cooling?

No. The same loop works for both. All that happens when changing from heating to cooling, or vise versa, is that the flow of heat is reversed inside the unit.

Does a contractor need special certification for Geothermal Energy Applications?

Specialty Heating & Cooling, Inc. is IGSHPA Certified. This provides assurance to our customers that all systems comply with state and federal regulations for installation of the systems and the piping.