Imagine your business in which the temperature is always comfortable, yet the heating and cooling system is out of sight. That system performs efficiently but doesn’t require extensive maintenance or knowledge on the part of the owners.
How Geothermal Heating and Cooling Works
Outdoor temperatures fluctuate with the changing seasons but underground temperatures don’t change as dramatically, thanks to the insulating properties of the earth. 1.5-2m below ground, temperatures remain relatively constant year-round. A geothermal system, which typically consists of an indoor handling unit and a buried system of pipes called an earth loop, and/or a pump to reinjection well, capitalizes on these constant temperatures to provide “free” energy.
(Note that geothermal HVAC should not be confused with “geothermal energy,” the process by which electricity is generated directly from the heat inside the earth. That takes place on the scale of utilities and uses different processes, normally by heating water to boiling.)
The pipes that make up an earth loop are usually made of polyethylene and can be buried under the ground horizontally or vertically, depending on the characteristics of the site. If an aquifer is available, engineers may prefer to design an “open loop” system, in which a well is drilled into the underground water. Water is pumped up, run past a heat exchanger, and then the water is returned to the same aquifer through “reinjection.”