January 21, 2021

While a furnace can do a great job of keeping your home warm in the winter, it does come with a few drawbacks. One of the biggest of those is the cost of energy. A furnace can use significant amounts of natural gas or electricity over the course of a heating season. To help drastically reduce your energy usage this winter and throughout the year, a geothermal heating and cooling system makes a lot of sense for your Chesapeake home. To understand how a geothermal system works to keep you warm in the winter, check out this basic information from Simmons Heating & Cooling.

What Is a Geothermal System?

A geothermal heat pump, also called a ground-source heat pump, is an energy-efficient system that’s used to heat and cool a home. It consists of a long refrigerant tube that’s buried underground somewhere on your property, a compressor to change the temperature of the refrigerant and a heat exchanger to extract the heat from the refrigerant and transfer it to the air in your home. Unlike a furnace, a geothermal heat pump is designed only to move heat energy from one place to another instead of creating heat from an energy source.

How Does a Geothermal System Work?

The heart of a geothermal system is the compressor. This device either raises or lowers the pressure in the refrigerant line. When the pressure in the refrigerant line changes, the temperature of the refrigerant either goes up or down.

During the winter, the temperature of the refrigerant is lowered so that it can absorb heat energy from the ground thanks to thermodynamics. Since soil maintains a fairly constant temperature, you don’t have to lower the temperature of the refrigerant all that much to achieve optimal heating results.

After the refrigerant warms up, it moves back inside to the heat exchanger so that the heat exchanger can transfer the heat from the refrigerant to the air in your home. This process continues until your home reaches the desired temperature.

Comparing Geothermal to an Air-Source Heat Pump

You may have heard of another energy-efficient heating option called an air-source heat pump. Compared to a standard HVAC system, an air-source heat pump does use far less energy. Rather than transferring heat energy from the ground, an air-source heat pump uses the refrigerant to transfer heat energy from the air above the ground.

If you live in a warmer climate, this is an incredibly efficient way to heat your home without the added costs of burying a refrigerant line in your yard. The downside, though, is that if the ambient air temperature drops too low, an air-source heat pump will need to utilize an auxiliary heater, typically powered by electricity, to supplement your home’s heating needs. This means that some of the efficiency gains of the heat pump will be negated by the expense of heating your home with electricity.

A Year-Round Solution

The good news about a geothermal heat pump is that it works to keep your home comfortable year-round. During the summer, the flow of refrigerant is changed so that the temperature of the refrigerant is higher when it enters the ground. This means that the surrounding soil will absorb heat from the refrigerant, cooling it until the refrigerant reenters your home.

Once the refrigerant returns to your warm home, it will be cool enough to absorb heat from your residence and transfer that heat to the ground. Since this energy transfer happens largely without any energy input, it is an incredibly efficient way to cool your premises.

Benefits Beyond Heating and Cooling

Thanks to the unique traits of a geothermal heat pump, it has benefits beyond simply heating and cooling your home. For example, a geothermal heat pump can also be used to heat the water in your water heater. The transfer of energy happens similarly to when your home is being heated. Rather than heating air, though, the heat is transferred to water. Thus, you can sharply increase the efficiency of two of your home’s biggest energy users with one simple system.

Trust the Geothermal Experts

Properly installing a geothermal heat pump requires a unique set of skills different than those required to install a typical HVAC system. That’s why we work hard at Simmons Heating & Cooling to stay on top of the latest industry trends so that we are qualified to provide geothermal installation services. We can also take care of the repair, maintenance and installation of air conditioners and furnaces, of course. Plus, we provide ductwork cleaning and repair, water heater installation and generators. Our company has been serving this great community for over 65 years, resulting in countless five-star customer reviews. To learn more about geothermal heating in Chesapeake, contact us at Simmons Heating & Cooling today.

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