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How Geothermal Energy Works

Geothermal energy is a renewable resource that utilizes the heat energy produced by the Earth’s core. This energy radiates towards the Earth’s surface. It can be harnessed just a few feet below the frost line where the temperature remains a steady 50 to 60 degrees throughout the entire year. For homes in milder climates, this type of energy can increase your home’s energy efficiency when heating and cooling your home by using a geothermal heat pump.

How Do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?

A geothermal pump consists of three main components:

  • Heat sink and loop. This is how the geothermal system harnesses energy from the Earth. The installers drill into the ground near your home and install the system’s heat sink, which is actually a network of tubing. This tubing is often referred to as a loop and is either buried vertically or horizontally depending upon soil conditions. The loop contains either water, antifreeze, or a mixture thereof that will be circulated through the entire system.
  • Heat pump. As the liquid is circulated throughout the system with the heat pump, it will transfer heat to and from the outdoors and your home. When the pump is set to cooling, the heat inside your home will be absorbed by the liquid and transferred outdoors will it will be dissipated. The process is reversed when the pump is switched to heating mode when the fluid will then absorb the heat from the ground below and transfers it into your home.
  • Heat distributor. This component is very similar to how a blower motor in a traditional split heating and cooling system would distribute cooled or warmed air from a furnace or air conditioner. The air is distributed to throughout your home’s ductwork to reach the rooms in your home.

An additional component may be added to the geothermal heat pump system that will allow for combining the system with a hot water heater. A desuperheater uses the excess heat that is produced by the system to heat the water.

Geothermal Pros and Cons to Consider

There are several pros and cons when it comes to deciding whether a geothermal system is suitable for your home:

  • The initial upfront cost is significantly higher than other types of heating and cooling; however most heat pumps have a lifespan of 25 or more years with proper maintenance.
  • Electricity is needed to run the heat pump, but the amount used is minimal compared to the amount of money you will save on natural gas or oil bills.
  • Homeowners are eligible to receive federal tax credits for up to 30 percent of the equipment and installation costs for installing a geothermal system at their primary home. This program is in effect until the end of 2016.
  • You may still need to supplement a geothermal system with an additional heater or air conditioner in times of extreme weather. However, this equipment will work more efficiently as the air in the home is pre-warmed or pre-cooled by the geothermal heat pump.

Making the decision to switch your Carrollton, GA, home to geothermal energy could be one of the best investments you can make, but you need to consider all the facts before making that decision. Let Merrell & Associates help you with their experience and knowledge that has made one of Western Georgia’s most trusted heating and cooling companies for over 60 years.

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