How Geothermal Works
A geothermal heat pump system includes three main components:
Earth connection: Using the earth as a heat source/sink, a series of pipes, commonly called a “loop,” is buried in the ground near the building to be conditioned. The loop can be installed either vertically or horizontally. It circulates a fluid (water, or a mixture of water and antifreeze) that absorbs heat from, or releases heat to, the surrounding soil depending on whether the ambient air is colder or warmer than the soil.
Heat pump subsystem: For heating, a geothermal heat pump removes the heat from the fluid in the earth connection, concentrates it, and then transfers it to the building. For cooling, the process is reversed.
Heat distribution subsystem: Conventional ductwork is generally used to distribute heated or cooled air from the geothermal heat pump throughout the building. Radiant floor heating is also a popular way to provide heat in residential applications. Domestic hot water and pool heating are other typical subsystems.