Geothermal Heating Systems: How They Work And How They Benefit The Environment

Geothermal heating systems for your home represent one of the most efficient heating technologies currently on the market. Also known as geo-exchange, ground source heating and cooling, or ground-water assisted, these heating systems utilize the heat from just below the surface of the earth to regulate your home temperature. 

Read on to learn about how geothermal heat systems work, the different configurations you can utilize to maximize the heat benefit, and what sorts of benefits exist by utilizing a geothermal heating system. 

How Geothermal Heating Works: Overview

Geothermal heating is based on the principle of gathering warm energy directly beneath the surface of the earth. Because the temperature is much more consistent underground, this offers a reliable source of heat energy. Geothermal heating gathers the heat energy under the ground using underground pipes and transports it into your home. Because this process is moving heat instead of generating heat, there is no need for fuel, greatly increasing its efficiency and decreasing it's impact on the environment. 

How Geothermal Heating Works: Earth Loops

The pipes forming the earth loop are an integral part of a geothermal heating system. They function by circulating a water based liquid through a special type of pipe that is designed to allow heat energy to transfer to the liquid in the pipes as efficiently as possible. These pipes are installed in one of three types of configurations depending on your home:

  • Vertical Loops: These earth loops are drilled straight down several hundred feet. These systems are best for homes that don't have a lot of room, or for areas where a greater depth is needed to achieve efficient heat gain. 
  • Horizontal Loops: These loops are utilized when space is not an issue. They are installed by digging a series of trenches and laying the pipe in a configuration that is horizontal to the surface of the ground. 
  • Water Loops: If you have access to a lake or a pond, it is possible to take advantage of the geothermal energy from a body of water by running a circular loop at the lake or pond floor. 

How Geothermal Heating Works: Advantages

Because geothermal units don't burn fuel, they are much more economically viable in terms of your monthly heating bill. In addition, this elimination of fossil fuel reliance provides a host of environmental benefits. Below are a few of the top environmental benefits gained by utilizing a geothermal heating system. 

  • Geothermal heating systems can greatly reduce the amount of coal burned by power plants, greatly benefiting the environment. 
  • High reduction of air pollution, greenhouse gases, and acid rain risk. 
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) released a report in 2003 showing that geothermal heating systems used between 44% and 72% less energy than other standard heating systems. 

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