Geothermal Heat Pumps

Efficient, advanced heat pump technology using ground-source energy

Geothermal Renewable Energy ConceptInnovative Carrier geothermal heat pumps tap into the earth’s surface to use the energy and relatively consistent heat found in soil or surface water as a heat source–instead of using outside air like traditional heat pumps. Like other Carrier heat pumps, geothermal heat pumps provide both cooling and heating to your home, and are able to maintain the highest efficiency on even the coldest winter nights.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, geothermal systems are “the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost effective space conditioning systems available today.”  That’s because a geothermal system taps into the earth to capture free, renewable energy.

The earth absorbs about 47% of the sun’s energy and remains a nearly constant temperature of 50°F to 70°F depending on geographic location. Working with an underground loop system, a geothermal unit utilizes this constant temperature to exchange energy between your home and the earth as needed for heating and cooling.  In winter, water circulating inside a sealed loop absorbs heat from the earth and carries it to the unit. Here it is compressed to a higher temperature and sent as warm air into your indoor system for distribution throughout your home.

In the summer, the system reverses and expels heat from your home to the cooler earth via the loop system.  This heat exchange process is not only natural but is a fairly ingenious and highly efficient way to create a comfortable climate in your home. Because a geothermal system simply moves heat instead of burning a fossil fuel to generate it, it’s more energy-efficient.

Why Choose Geothermal?

GeothermalGeothermal heating and cooling systems provide homeowners with a wide range of benefits.

  • Savings: Generally, no other heating and cooling system offers lower operating cost, with savings up to 60% compared to ordinary systems.
  • Comfort:  Theses systems provide even temperatures throughout the home year round, with excellent dehumidification during cooling.
  • Environmentally Friendly:  Geothermal is a clean, green and renewable technology to reduce your carbon footprint now and for future generations.
  • Reliable:  Geothermal units last long than ordinary air conditioners and heat pumps. Since the units contain few moving parts, they operate for years with little maintenance.
  • Quiet Operation:  Unlike ordinary air conditioners and hear pumps, no outdoor unit is required.  Carrier geothermal units use heavy-duty, fully-insulated cabinets for quiet operation. Quiet, soft starting variable speed blowers are used in many models.
  • Flexibility:  Heating, cooling and supplemental water heating from a single unit. And a wide variety of models and options to fit most any application.
  • Free Hot Water:  During unit operation, free excess heat is used to supplement the home’s water heater.
  • Energy Independence:  Geothermal systems reduce need to import fuel.
  • Safe and Clean:  No flame, no flue, no odors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:    How efficient are geothermal heat pump systems?

A:    Actual efficiencies will depend on a number of factors, but generally speaking a geothermal heat pump can be three to five times more efficient at providing heat than a gas, propane or oil furnace based on the amount of energy consumed to provide a given amount of heat. For cooling, a geothermal system is generally 30-50% more efficient than an air conditioner or heat pump.

Q:    Why are geothermal heat pumps so efficient?

A:    Geothermal heat pumps use the ground temperatures as a “source” for heat energy during heating, and use the ground as a heat “sink” during cooling.  The earth acts as a giant, free energy battery, providing an endless, renewable source for heating and cooling comfort.  Standard heat pumps use outdoor air for heating and cooling. Because the ground temperature is much more moderate and stable than air temperatures, geothermal system operation is much more energy-efficient, especially at extreme outdoor temperatures.

Q:    Are these systems reliable?

A:    Yes. Geothermal units are not subject to some of the same forces that cause wear and tear on other types of systems. And earth loops are installed using a special grade of polyethylene pipe with heat-fused fittings designed to last 50 years or more.

Q:    What kind of underground loop system is best?

A:    It depends on several factors. Homes on larger lots usually have horizontal loops installed. Smaller lots may require a vertical loop. A nearby pond can also be used. If you have a well water system, that may be an option. An HGH Mechanical technician has been trained to determine which loop design is most appropriate for your home. Regardless of the loop system selected, the operating costs are all about the same.

Q:    How much space is needed for a closed loop system?

A:    The smallest closed loop design, the vertical loop, may require a space of only 15 x 15 feet, or a line of 3 x 45 feet, located at least 10 feet away from the home, and 10 feet from property lines. Horizontal loops require considerably more space.

Q:    How is the unit size and loop design determined?

A:    HGH Mechanical uses GeoDesigner software to determine the most appropriate sized unit and loop for your home. The software takes many factors into consideration including: the heating and cooling requirements of the home, loop type, depth, soil conditions, earth temperatures, outdoor air temperature extremes, local fuel rates and much more. In addition, the software can demonstrate energy costs for a Carrier Geothermal system vs. another type of heating and cooling system.

Q:    Will the fluid in the loops freeze during a long, cold winter?

A:    No. Antifreeze in the loop fluid eliminates any concerns about freezing.

Q:    Can a well be used instead of an earth loop?

A:    Yes. Prior to using a well for a geothermal installation, the water quality should be checked. Sufficient water volume is needed for the unit, usually about four to nine gallons per minute during unit operation.  A discharge location like a pond or drainage ditch is also required.

Q:    How big does a pond have to be for use with a geothermal system?

A:    For most installations, the pond should have a surface area of at least a half acre and a depth of 10 feet. Bigger is better.

Q:    Can a geothermal unit be combined with a gas or propane furnace?

geothermal interior unit sampleA:    Yes. Some homeowners like the benefit of both technologies. In this case, a geothermal “split” unit (compressor only) is connected to a furnace and cooling coil.  The geothermal unit will perform all the cooling and some of the heating. During the coldest days, the system switches over to furnace operation. This type of system may be a good choice for a replacement installation.

Q:    Can existing duct work and electrical service be used?

A:    Generally, the existing duct work can be used with a geothermal unit without extensive modification. Variable speed blowers used in many of the Carrier geothermal units can compensate for a less-than-optimum duct system. For the electrical supply, a 200-amp service for the home is recommended.

Q:    What about radiant floor heat?

A:    A geothermal system can be designed to provide warm water for radiant floor applications.  Carrier’s water-to-water geothermal units are 4 to 5 times more efficient than today’s best boilers.

Q:    Are geothermal systems more expensive to install, and how long does it take for the extra expense to pay for itself?

A:    Geothermal systems are generally more expensive to install than ordinary systems. For replacement installations, the added cost is usually recovered in a few years. In a new home where the added cost of the system is included in the mortgage, the monthly energy savings may be greater than the added cost, providing the homeowner with a positive cash flow from day one. Because every situation is somewhat unique, HGH Mechanical can demonstrate the complete financial scenario for your home using the GeoDesigner software. Many homeowners find that a Carrier geothermal system is a great investment.

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Geothermal Heat Pumps

Innovative Carrier geothermal heat pumps tap into the earth's surface to use the energy and relatively consistent heat found in soil or surface water as a heat source–instead of using outside air like traditional heat pumps.

Learn More