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Frequently Asked Questions – Geothermal
Heat Pumps

“Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective comfort systems available.”


What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

A geothermal heat pump transfers the free, renewable solar energy stored in the earth to efficiently heat your home and moves heat from your home to the same ground in the summer to cool your home.

Are there different types of geothermal heat pumps?

There are a few basic types. Water-to-Air package units are self-contained systems that contractors typically install in a basement or garage and use forced air to heat and cool your home. Water-to-Water units use water run in tubes under your floor to heat your floor, and use water running to a coil in an air-handling unit to supply air conditioning to cool your home.

What is the difference between geo-exchange, ground source, and geothermal heat pumps?

There is no difference; these are just different names for the same product.

Do geothermal heat pumps require additional backup heat sources in cold climates?

If the geothermal heat pump is sized properly for the home then a small amount of auxiliary heat is typically provided on the coldest days from an electric resistant heat. It is a good idea to have an auxiliary heater installed to operate as a back up in an emergency situation. Your Q Energy Systems contractor can perform an economic analysis to determine what portion of the heat comes from the heat pump and what portion will come from auxiliary means if necessary.

What are the environmental benefits of geothermal heat pump systems?

Currently, installed systems are making a huge difference in our environment. These installed systems have the effect of eliminating more than three million tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of taking 650,000 automobiles off the road. Geothermal heat pump systems conserve energy and, because they move heat that already exists rather than burning something to create heat, they reduce the amount of toxic emissions in the atmosphere. They use renewable energy from the sun, and because the system doesn’t rely on outside air, it keeps the air inside of buildings cleaner and free from pollens, outdoor pollutants, mold spores, and other allergens.

How do geothermal heat pumps protect the environment?

Since geothermal heat pump systems don’t burn fossil fuels to generate heat, they conserve natural resources and reduce the amount of carbon released into the environment. Geothermal heat pumps also minimize ozone layer destruction by using factory-sealed refrigeration systems, which will seldom if ever have to be recharged.

How long does it take to install a horizontal loop system?

This depends on a number of things including soil conditions, length and depth of pipe, and equipment required. In most cases a contractor can complete a typical installation in one to two days.

How far apart are trenches and vertical boreholes spaced?

We typically see installation with trenches spaced six feet apart and boreholes fifteen feet apart.

Can I install a ground loop heat exchanger myself?

We do not recommend you doing this yourself unless you have access to specialized equipment and have had previous experience working with this technology. Thermal fusion of the pipe, drilling, trenching and filling with engineered conductive grouts are procedures best handled by licensed professionals. Nonprofessional installations may result in less than optimum performance, which could cancel out anticipated savings.


Available Resources

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