Geothermal Basics: What Parts Make Up Your Green Energy System?
Understanding geothermal basics helps you appreciate the simplicity of this clean, sustainable source of heating and cooling energy. While time flies and seasons change, one thing remains constant: The temperature of the earth only about six feet below the surface never varies much from 50 to 55 degrees. This consistent latent heat can be extracted to warm your home in winter and in summer the same ground can serve as a highly efficient heat sink to cool your home. Because no combustion is involved and only electricity to run the compressor and circulation pumps is consumed, a geothermal system can cut your heating costs as much as 70 percent and cooling costs by 30 percent. (Try our savings calculator to see just how much you could save.)
Here are the geothermal basics of a typical system and how they work together to provide household comfort and efficiency year-round.
The ground loop
Also known as the ground heat exchanger, this component consists of long, hairpin-shaped loops of high-density tubing buried in the ground on your property to absorb latent heat.
Biodegradable heat exchanging fluid
This is the liquid circulated through the ground loop tubing to absorb or disperse heat energy, depending on whether the system is in heating or cooling mode. In most states, only non-toxic propylene glycol is utilized.
These electric units circulate heat exchanging fluid through the ground loops. The pump plumbing also incorporates valves for routine maintenance such as flushing the ground loops to install new anti-freeze.
Geothermal heat pump
Heat energy conveyed to the geothermal heat pump by the heat exchanging fluid during winter is transferred to the refrigerant, concentrated in a compressor cycle, then dispersed into the home through an indoor coil. During summer the indoor coil absorbs warmth from the home and the heat pump concentrates the heat energy and transfers it to the fluid circulating through the loop field for dispersal into the ground.
Sobieski Services offers sales, service and more advice on the geothermal basics for your home. Our goal is to help educate our customers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC & plumbing systems).
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