The word “geothermal” comes from the Greek “geo,” meaning earth, and “therine,” meaning heat. Geothermal energy is energy created by using the natural heat of the earth found as little as four feet under your back yard!
Geothermal technology can be used to providing heating or cooling services for homes, offices, schools any building that requires heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. In each instance the process is similar.
In the heating mode, water is circulated through pipes in the ground. This “earth loop” is colder than the surrounding ground causing the water to absorb energy in the form of heat, from the earth. The water carries this energy to the heat exchanger in the geothermal pump. In the heat exchanger, a refrigerant gas absorbs the heat energy from the water. The water then leaves the heat exchanger back at the colder temperature, and again circulates through the earth loop to pick up more energy.
The refrigerant gas, which contains energy gained from the earth loop, travels from the heat exchanger to the compressor. In the compressor, the refrigerant temperature rises to 160°. From the compressor, the superheated refrigerant travels to the air heat exchanger. Here, the heat pump's blower circulates air across the air coil, increasing the temperature of the air, which is blown through ductwork to heat the building. After refrigerant releases its heat energy to the air, it then flows to the earth loop heat exchanger to start the cycle again.
In the cooling mode, the water circulating in the earth loop is warmer than the surrounding ground. This causes the water to release energy, in the form of heat, into the earth. The water, now cooler from traveling through the ground flows to the heat exchanger in the geothermal pump. In the heat exchanger, hot refrigerant gas from the compressor releases its heat into the water. This causes the water to increase temperature, which it releases to the ground.
The refrigerant, which has released its heat energy and became a cold liquid, now travels to the heat exchanger. Here the heat pump's blower circulates warm, humid air across the cold air coil – creating a flow of air that is cooler than the surrounding room-temperature. This cooler air is then blown through ductwork to cool the home. The refrigerant in the air coil picks up the heat energy from the air, and travels to the compressor. When the refrigerant leaves the compressor, it then flows to the earth loop heat exchanger to start the cycle again.