Keeping your home warm during the winter and cool during the summer can be expensive. While many homeowners accomplish this with a standard HVAC system that consists of a furnace and air conditioning unit, there is another option. A geothermal heat pump can be used either alone or in conjunction with a standard HVAC system to reduce your energy costs and keep your home for comfortable. Here's what you need to know about heat pumps to determine if one is right for you.
What are geothermal heat pumps, and how do they work?
A heat pump works by moving heat, rather than producing it. The system consists of a pump and a network of pipes which snake their way below ground. During the summer, the water in the pipes is warmed by the warmer air in the home, and that heat is discharged into the cooler below-ground soil. During the winter, the warmth of the below-ground soil warms the water, and the system transfers that heat to the home. Geothermal heat pumps work because the soil below ground maintains a nearly constant temperature year-round.
Will a heat pump cool and heat a home on its own?
This depends on your location. In a moderate climate, a geothermal heat pump may be all you need in order to heat your home a few degrees in the winter and cool it off a bit in the summer. In more temperate climates, however, you will likely need some supplemental heating and cooling in addition to the heat pump. For instance, if it is regularly 20 degrees F during your winter, a heat pump alone won't be enough to keep your home a comfortable 68 degrees F.
What are the benefits of a heat pump?
Heat pumps use far less energy than a standard HVAC system. They rely on the natural heat of the ground, rather than generating heat by burning fuel. The only energy they require is a small amount of electricity to push the water through the pipes. Even if you live in a climate where you need to use a traditional HVAC system along with your heat pump, it will reduce your energy bills considerably, since on all but the coldest and hottest days, you can likely get away with using only the heat pump.
Of course, using less energy comes with a whole series of secondary benefits. You'll be doing the environment a favor and likely qualifying for energy efficient tax credits. If you're building a new home and hoping to meet green building standards, a heat pump can help you do so.
Talk to your HVAC installation specialist to learn more about geothermal heat pumps and whether one is right for your home.