Warm at home (Photo: @JulieK via Twenty20)

How Does Geothermal Heating Work in a Home?

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Warm at home (Photo: @JulieK via Twenty20)
Geothermal heating is an effective and efficient way to heat your house. It can reduce your energy bill significantly while providing the comfort of a more traditional system. But how does it work? Here’s what you need to know.

How a geothermal heating system works

To understand the full benefits of a geothermal heating system, you first need to understand how it works. Unlike a conventional system that uses outside air, a geothermal system draws and transfers heat through pipes filled with liquid that are buried underground. This is based on the understanding that at a certain depth, the temperature remains consistently around 50 degrees. Instead of working to heat the air, this system extracts heat from the liquid in the pipes that remain at a constant temperature and then disburses it with a pump into the home. As a result, your home maintains a consistent pre-set temperature.

Energy efficiency

Although the geothermal heating system is electrically powered, it takes very little to run its pump. For comparison, it takes a conventional system approximately 2.5 kilowatt hours to produce 12,000 Btu of heating or cooling, while a geothermal system only uses one kilowatt hour for the same result. This equates to it being over two times more efficient than air conditioners and gas furnaces. On average, geothermal heating systems reduce home utility bills by 50% and can cut them by as much as 70%.

Noise reduction

Unlike a conventional system that uses outdoor fans and compressors to work, a geothermal system pumps liquid and is located indoor and underground. Not only does this reduce noise, it also protects the system from the harsh outdoor environment and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Converting to geothermal heat

If you’re thinking of converting your existing system with a geothermal system, it is possible as long as you can bury the piping. You may also have to retrofit the air ducts, but the existing air handler can still be utilized in most cases. Geothermal heating systems in a home can be used for hot water heaters, but it is not always feasible. An installation expert will be able to advise you on the requirements.

Things to consider

The initial cost of a geothermal heating and cooling system, including installation, ranges around $15,000 to $25,000. However, due to the large reduction in utility costs, it can pay for itself in five to 10 years, and most systems last 20 or more years. The more insulated the house, the better a geothermal system will work.
Knowing how geothermal heating works in a home can give you a better understanding of its benefits and potential cost savings. If you’re considering a new heating and cooling system, you should reach out to an expert to find out how it might work for you. While the initial investment may seem high, the reduction in your utilities can more than make up for it.