A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump is a heating and cooling system that transfers heat to and from the ground through a loop to condition the air inside of your home or business.
A geothermal heat pump uses the mass of the earth to either transfer heat into the house from the ground or from the house as a heat sink into the ground. This is achieved through a ground loop that is either a well (vertical) or a trench (horizontal). The trench approach is less costly but requires a large area to work.
Typically the cost of a geothermal system is much higher than a traditional efficient heat pump, but the efficiency can dramatically reduce your monthly electric bills. A geothermal system can also be coupled with a solar thermal system, hot water heating system, or even a radiant floor system. The payback on a geothermal system can be long if your home or business does not require a great deal of mechanical heating and cooling. However the cost of these systems continue to drop. In many buildings that have a high latent load (schools for instance) geothermal is a great investment.
Do you have a geothermal system? Let us know in the comments below how you like it, lessons learned, or expand on our posts with useful information for others.