The Basic How and Why of a Geothermal Heat Pump

One of the most appreciated things about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has so few moving parts. There’s just that much less that can break down– that much less to maintain. And that in and of itself makes a significant difference in reducing the overall energy costs of Columbus homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.


Of course, there are some moving parts in the system. Most of them are found in its most conspicuous component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the system’s workhorse. Its task is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on ambient temperatures. Consequently, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner united in one discreet package.

What, then, does a heat pump use to transfer heat? Water! Well, that or a solution containing antifreeze. This liquid flows through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is attached above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and the heat is then is circulated throughout a home by way of either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season the process is reversed: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground via those same buried loops. Oh, and as an added bonus, many geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The crucial distinction between a geothermal heat pump and a typical furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel burning to generate heat. Instead it takes heat that’s already present and merely moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Remember this, too: underground temperatures usually stay at around 50º F all year long. And that means? A geothermal heating and cooling system uses considerably less energy to cool your home than traditional air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system right for your Columbus home? Look to this region’s geothermal pros, the friendly gang at Patriot Air Comfort Systems.