The Fundamental How and Why of a Geothermal Heat Pump

What the great majority of homeowners say they appreciate most of all about a geothermal heating and cooling system is that it has almost no moving parts. There’s just that much less that can get screwed up– that much less needing maintenance. And that alone plays a huge role in reducing the overall energy costs of Western Montana homeowners who’ve gone geothermal.


Of course, the system isn’t totally devoid of moving parts. the bulk of them are found in its most important component, too: the geothermal heat pump.

This is the system’s engine. Its task is to transfer heat. And it transfers heat either from the ground into your house or from your house into the ground, depending on the climate30. That being the case, it’s a furnace and an air conditioner united in one compact package.

Water – or an antifreeze solution – is the medium the heat pump uses to transfer heat. This liquid circulates through loops of underground pipes to which the heat pump is secured above ground. During heating season the liquid draws heat from the ground, the heat pump draws the warm liquid up into refrigerant coils, and the heat is then is dispensed throughout a home by way of either a forced air or a hydronic system. During cooling season the process is reversed: the pump draws heat from your home and transfers it underground through those same buried loops. Oh, and somewhere in the process, more than a few geothermal systems also produce domestic hot water.

The essential differentiator between a geothermal heat pump and a conventional furnace is that a heat pump doesn’t set fuel afire to generate heat. Instead it takes heat that already exists and simply moves it around. That naturally makes it a much more efficient heating and cooling system. Recognize this, too: underground temperatures usually remain at around 50º F all year long. And that means? A geothermal heating and cooling system requires considerably less energy to cool your home than regular air conditioners.

So … is a geothermal system the answer for your Western Montana home? Look to this area’s geothermal pros, the helpful people at Ground Source Systems, Inc..