The most frequently asked questions

 

How does a geothermal system work?

Throughout the year, outdoor temperatures fluctuate with the changing seasons. However, underground temperatures do not. In fact, about four to six feet below the earth's surface, temperatures remain relatively constant year-round. A geothermal system, which consists of an indoor unit and a buried earth loop, capitalizes on these constant temperatures.

In the winter, fluid circulating through the system's earth loop absorbs stored heat and carries it indoors. The indoor unit compresses the heat to a higher temperature and distributes it throughout the building. In the summer, the system reverses, pulling heat from the building, carrying through the earth loop and depositing it in the cooler earth.

 

What makes a geothermal system different from conventional systems?

 

A geothermal system utilizes the energy from the sun, which is stored in the earth, to heat and cool homes and buildings. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit's fan, compressor and pump. So, unlike conventional systems, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat--they simply transfer heat to and from the earth.

 

How efficient is a geothermal system?

A geothermal system is more than three times as efficient as the most efficient conventional system. Because geothermal systems do not burn combustible fuel to make heat, they provide three to four units of energy for every one unit used to power the system.

 

What does geothermal mean to the environment?

Because geothermal systems work with nature, not against it, they minimize the threats of acid rain, air pollution and the greenhouse effect. An environmentally friendly fluid is used in the closed, continuous loop.

 

Do geothermal systems require much maintenance?

No. In fact, geothermal systems are practically maintenance free. When installed properly, the buried loop will last for generations. And the other half of the operation--the unit's fan, compressor and pump--is housed indoors, protected from the harsh weather conditions. Usually, periodic checks and filter changes are the only required maintenance