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How Does a Geothermal System Provide Air Conditioning for a Home?

When people think of using geothermal power for home comfort, they usually first think of it as supplying warmth for the winter. After all, thermal means “heat.” So it often comes as a surprise for homeowners to learn that a geothermal installation is also capable of working as an air conditioner. And not just any air conditioner, but one that’s more energy efficient and effective than a standard air-source air conditioning system.

How geothermal cooling works

A geothermal comfort system for a home is a type of heat pump. Like all heat pumps, it can work in two directions: bringing heat from outside and releasing it inside a building (heating mode) and removing heat from inside a building and releasing it outside (cooling mode). The difference with a geothermal heat pump is that the “outside” part is underground, approximately 10 feet below the frost line. Loops carrying a water and antifreeze mix are responsible for performing the underground heat exchange.

When a geothermal heat pump is in cooling mode, the indoor components work the same as in any heat pump when set to cooling mode: the refrigerant coil absorbs heat from the indoor air through evaporation, and a blower fan sends this cooled air into the ducts. The absorbed heat then goes through a heat exchanger that moves the heat to the antifreeze mixture in the outdoor coils. From there, the heat is deposited into the ground. Essentially, the heat pump uses the earth as a heat sink. Because the temperature at this depth remains steadily around 54°F, it’s easy for the heat pump to release the heat and not lose energy efficiency—in fact, it’s much easier than releasing heat to the air when the outdoor temperature is over 80°F. This is one of the reasons that geothermal heat pumps can obtain such high levels of energy efficiency compared to conventional air-source heat pumps.

Want to know more about geothermal air conditioning and heating? Then call up the geothermal professionals at Comfort Flow Heating in Eugene, OR today. We offer geothermal installation, replacement, repair, and maintenance services.

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