Geothermal heating is best described as the use of the earth’s thermal energy for space and hot water heating. This technology has been in use since the time of the Roman Empire as a way to heat buildings and spas by using the sources of hot water and steam that exist near the earth’s surface. The ultimate source of geothermal energy is believed to be from the radioactive decay that occurs deep within the Earth’s crust.
Today, the term geothermal heating is used to refer to the heating/cooling that is derived by the use of a geothermal heat pump.In heating it involves pumping cool water through a series of pipes (referred to as a loop and often containing non toxic antifreeze) buried under ground. As the water circulates through these under ground pipes it absorbs heat from the ground where it is extracted via the unit’s heat exchanger and delivered to the home as warm air.By switching the direction of the flow, the same system is used to reject heat and circulate cooled air in the summer months.
According to the US EPA a well designed and installed geothermal heat pump system can save consumers between 30 – 70% in heating costs and 20 – 50% in cooling costs.