A Down-to-Earth Guide to Home Heating and Cooling

Harness Earth’s Natural Heat for Your Home

(Family Features) An earth-friendly option for saving money may be available in your own backyard. Using geothermal energy is not only a sustainable way to manage your home’s climate, it can be cost-efficient, too.

Heating and cooling your home is likely a major component of your monthly expenses. Based on Energy Star estimates, the average U.S. household is spending around $24,000 each year on energy bills. Heating your home represents as much as 42% of your total bill, according to the Department of Energy.

In many cases, finding cost-efficient ways to heat your home is not only better for your wallet, it’s better for the environment. One of the best options for protecting the earth while heating your home may come straight from the ground.

Geothermal heat pumps use the naturally occurring energy below the earth’s surface to generate heat, and the Department of Energy says this can reduce your home’s energy usage by 30-60%.

How It Works

Depending on exactly where you live, you likely notice a fair bit of fluctuation in temperatures as seasons change, weather systems move through your area and so forth. However, below the surface, temperatures are actually fairly steady, with a range of about 45-75 F. In the winter, this temperature is warmer than the ground air, and in the summer it’s cooler.

A geothermal heat pump utilizes the difference to transfer heat to warm a cold house in the winter and cool air to offset blazing temperatures in the summer. The systems tend to require less maintenance, operate more quietly and last longer than air-source heat pumps, making them a smart energy-efficient home upgrade.

A geothermal heat pump system operates on a loop, but which loop system you need depends on variables like climate, soil type and yard size.

Closed-loop systems consist of a series of pipes that transfer heat found below the surface between the heat pump refrigerant and an antifreeze solution, creating warm air that can be delivered into the home using an electric fan system. Conversely, in the summer, the heat in the house is transferred to the same pipe system and cooled before being sent back to the house as cooler air, making it an eco-friendly way to keep your home cool.

Closed-loop systems can be installed in horizontal, vertical or pond configurations, depending on the available space. Another option is an open-loop system, which relies on well or surface body water to exchange warm and cool air.


Horizontal ground loop systems are used where there is sufficient space.



Vertical ground loop systems are used where space is limited.


Cost Considerations

While the cost varies depending on the type of loop system you need, geothermal systems generally have a higher upfront cost than alternative climate control systems. However, in most cases you’ll make up the extra cost in energy savings within 5-10 years geothermal system is also considerably longer, even double, other options like an air-source system.

You can also manage costs by looking for Energy Star certified geothermal heat pumps, which can be as much as 45% more efficient than standard pumps and may result in a tax credit.

What You Should Know

  • A geothermal heat pump can be installed in both new builds and existing homes.
  • You can achieve zoned climate control with a geothermal system to ensure comfort in different areas of your home.
  • Sub-surface temperatures make it possible to use a geothermal heat pump in nearly every region of the United States.
  • Some geothermal systems also include capabilities for heating water for showers, laundry and more.
  • Because they use no flames, fuel or storage tanks, geothermal systems are quite safe to operate.

Learn more about eco-friendly heating and cooling options at eLivingtoday.com.