Ground Source Heat Pumps

Homeowners have discovered ground source energy systems are ideal for heating and cooling. It provides comfort, cleanliness and an improved environment with a lower operating cost than other system. A ground source system works like a heat pump but on a much larger scale using the earth instead of the air to heat and cool.

With a nearby source of ground water you can heat and cool your home using the world’s most plentiful resource, the earth. No matter where you live the earth’s temperature stays relatively stable throughout the year usually between 7°C- 10°C (45°-50°F) range in northern latitudes. Even when outdoor temperatures fluctuate radically this constant, stable energy source can be harnessed for economical year round space heating, cooling. There is also a hot water generator option to heat your hot water using a water source heat pump. Your system can produce four units of energy for every one used. This allows a water source heat pump to be much more efficient than traditional space conditioning methods and can save you from 30-60% on your monthly energy bills. Water source systems consist of two main components, the heat pump and a water system installed outside the home. There are two choices of water source systems from which to choose; open and closed loop systems. Which system you install is dependent in part by your preference but also by your geographic area and the availability of ground water.

Open Loop System

Water is removed from your water source and passed through your heat pump. The heat is extracted from the water using refrigerant. This heat is then used to heat your home through the air duct system. In summer, the heat is extracted by your water source heat pump and removed from your home. The heat is transferred to the water and returned to the aquifer from where it was removed.

Closed Loop System

These systems do not pump any water out of the ground. These systems utilize fluid that is sealed in a loop of piping buried in the earth or submerged in a pond. Heat is absorbed from the water or earth by this fluid and pumped through the heat exchanger. The circulating heated solution delivers the heat back to the heat pump which distributes the heat to your home. During the cooling season, the heat in your home is extracted by the heat pump and transferred to the fluid. The heat removed from your home is then transferred to the earth, or water source.

Difference Between Ground Source and Geothermal

The word geothermal has become a common term used to describe ground source energy. Even the accreditation needed for being a ground source installer uses the term geothermal so it’s not surprising if you are confused! The next paragraph gives a brief explanation of the two terms.

Although you often see the terms geothermal and ground source used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. They both use the earth for their energy but geothermal systems are limited to geographic locations that have active geothermal activity. While ground source heat pumps use the soil or groundwater as their energy source, geothermal systems use heat from deep within the earth’s core, such as from geysers or hot springs. These systems are better suited for large applications and not to single family homes. Geothermal systems do not use a heat pump or ground loop system.

Even though we have explained the difference, you still need to be prepared to see the term geothermal used when referring to ground source.