How Geothermal Heat Pump Systems Work

Contrary to what many people think, geothermal heat pump systems do NOT tap into higher temperatures found far below the land surface. Rather, geothermal heat pumps rely on solar energy stored in the shallow subsurface. As shown below, nearly half of all the sun’s energy is absorbed by the earth, and is stored as moderate temperatures (approximately 50 degrees Fahrenheit) year-round in the shallow subsurface.



Geothermal heat pumps use a ground loop, also called a ground heat exchanger (GHE), to extract this renewable subsurface solar energy. The ground loop uses fluids that are in thermal connection with the ground to exchange heat with the subsurface. Common types of ground loops include groundwater pumped from a well (Open Loops) or a refrigerant/water solution circulated through polyethylene tubing in vertical boreholes, shallow horizontal trenching, or in a surface water body such as a pond or lake (Closed Loops).

A simple refrigeration cycle in the heat exchanger of the geothermal heat pump, the same technology used in air conditioners and refrigerators, enables the heat pump to concentrate the moderate ground temperatures into higher temperatures that are used to heat a home. This same refrigeration cycle is used to extract heat from the building during the cooling season and deliver the heat to the cool subsurface via the ground loop. The following image shows how the heat pump relies on a refrigerant cycle to deliver or extract heat from a building:

The DOE has a thorough discussion of geothermal heat pump technology, and the following DOE video provides an excellent overall look at how geothermal heat pumps work:


Geothermal RECs in NH — 2014 RECs SOLD!

Matt Davis  -  Jun 20, 2015  -  1 Comments
Another milestone reached After more than three years since the passage NH SB-218, another major milestone has been reached. This week, Revolution Energy and Knollwood Energy teame...

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New Hampshire Recognizes Geothermal Heat Pump System as a Renewable Energy Facility

Matt Davis  -  Dec 10, 2014  -  No Comments
Today, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission approved Rolling Dog Farm as a Class 1 Thermal Renewable Energy Source, the first geothermal system to be recognized under the ...

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NH Thermal RECs: What you need to know

Matt Davis  -  Jul 17, 2014  -  4 Comments
Thermal Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) in New Hampshire In 2012, the New Hampshire Legislature passed SB218 that formally incorporated ‘useful thermal energy generated ...

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Performance Monitoring – COPs

Matt Davis  -  Jun 13, 2013  -  , , ,  -  Comments Off on Performance Monitoring – COPs
Introduction This article is the second in a three-part series prepared by Ground Energy Support LLC (GES) that will highlight some of the lessons learned from over 100,000 hours o...

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Performance Monitoring – Ground Loop

Matt Davis  -  Jun 01, 2013  -  , , ,  -  Comments Off on Performance Monitoring – Ground Loop
This article is the first in a 3-part series prepared by Ground Energy Support LLC (GES) that will highlight some of the lessons learned from over 100,000 hours of GSHP real-time m...

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Performance Monitoring Series

Matt Davis  -  May 25, 2013  -  , , ,  -  Comments Off on Performance Monitoring Series
In Spring 2013, we began publishing a series of articles on Performance Monitoring that highlight the lessons learned from over 100,000 hours of geothermal heat pump system monitor...

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Measurements Confirm GSHP Cost Savings

Matt Davis  -  Jul 10, 2012  -  Comments Off on Measurements Confirm GSHP Cost Savings
One unique capability of the GxTracker™ is to accurately document both the energy produced by a GSHP system as well as the energy consumed.   Combining this system-level perfor...

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Geothermal as a Renewable Energy

Matt Davis  -  Jul 02, 2012  -  , , ,  -  Comments Off on Geothermal as a Renewable Energy
Recent Maryland legislation formally recognizing geothermal heating and cooling (GHC) system as a renewable energy resource has great potential for increasing the adoption of groun...

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