How Does a Geothermal HVAC System Work?

Geothermal HVAC systems are growing in popularity across the country as homeowners push to lower household energy consumption and reliance on fossil fuels for heating. A geothermal HVAC system is a highly efficient option for both heating and cooling, as well as water heating depending on system configuration. The way they operate is a bit different than what Springfield area homeowners are used to with their traditional furnaces and air conditioning systems.

MB Heating & Cooling walks you through the basics of how a geothermal HVAC system works. If you’d like to learn more about installing a geothermal system for your home, contact us today!

Components of a Geothermal HVAC System

A geothermal HVAC system uses three main components to heat and cool a home. There is a geothermal heat pump, a buried piping system, and a duct system. 

A unique feature of this system is its ground loop, also called an earth loop, which is a network of fluid-filled pipes installed below ground on the property near the home. The ground loop is configured as an open or closed loop system.

  • An open loop system uses groundwater within its piping to transfer thermal energy. This configuration is an option for homes with a nearby well, pond, or lake for use as a water source and as a sink to deposit thermal energy.
  • A closed loop contains a mixture of water and antifreeze to absorb and move heat. These loops can be installed vertically or horizontally on the property.

How Geothermal Heating and Cooling Works

Geothermal heat pumps transfer heat between a home and the ground or body of water. Plentiful thermal energy exists underground and is always at the ready to heat homes. There is no combustion or burning of fuels, and the heat pump makes efficient use of electricity to operate.

To Heat a Home

The ground loop fluid absorbs heat from the ground or water source as it circulates through the loop. At the heat pump, heat is transferred from the fluid to the air supply. The heated air is circulated through the ducts and distributed across the home. 

For Cooling

To cool a home, the heat pump extracts heat energy from the home’s air supply and transfers it to the fluid. The fluid circulates through the ground loop and releases thermal energy into the ground or water source.

Benefits of a Geothermal HVAC System

A geothermal HVAC system is typically the most expensive option a homeowner can install, largely due to the costs of excavation required to initially install the ground loop. However, the payback period isn’t very long at all thanks to the superior energy efficiency these systems offer.

  • Compared to traditional heating systems, geothermal is more than five times more energy efficient. A geothermal HVAC system is more than twice as energy efficient as conventional cooling systems.
  • By transferring existing thermal energy instead of creating it through combustion of fuel, a geothermal system returns four to five units of power for every unit of electricity used to operate the system.
  • The components of a geothermal HVAC system are protected from the elements, housed both inside the home and below ground. Maintenance needs are minimal. Typically all a homeowner needs to do is change the air filter on a regular basis, and schedule seasonal tune ups with their HVAC company.
  • Geothermal systems offer the longest average service life of any HVAC system, with a geothermal heat pump lasting about 25 years and the ground loop lasting 50 years or more. 

Geothermal HVAC from MB Heating & Cooling

The technicians at MB Heating & Cooling perform expert installation, repairs, and maintenance for geothermal HVAC systems across the Springfield, Illinois, area. We help homeowners gain control over both comfort and energy costs with the right geothermal solutions. Contact us today to request an estimate for installation of a new geothermal HVAC system.

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