One of the hottest topics today in energy conservation is the use of geothermal heat pump systems. The US Department of Energy estimates that 40,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed each year. These systems have been in use since the 1940’s but have only become popular due to the soaring price of fossil fuels. A typical geothermal heat pump can save an average of between 25% and 50% on yearly heating and cooling costs according to the Geothermal Heat Pump Consortium. Most geothermal heat pumps rely on a closed system of vertical or horizontal pipes buried in the ground below the frost line filled with water or a water/antifreeze mixture. These geothermal heat pumps rely on the constant temperature of the earth below the frost line. These systems can generate heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. The picture below is and example of a closed horizontal loop system.
The system works by pumping the water through a heat pump and exchanging the thermal energy into your home. The geothermal heat pumps can even supply hot water for homes. The Energy Star program even offers incentives for new construction utilizing geothermal heat pumps. Some states and even electric utility companies are also offering sizable rebates and discounts for installing the geothermal heat pumps.