How a Geothermal Heat Pump Works

A geothermal heat pump may sound like a complicated idea but it is actually a very efficient and eco-friendly method of heat transfer. Geothermal heat pumps can be used for both heating and cooling purposes. Let us delve deeper into how these heat pumps work and see how you can benefit from them.

How it Works

A heat pump essentially transports heat energy from one place to another. Heat can be generated through electrical means, solar energy, or by burning fossil or natural fuels. A geothermal heat pump utilizes the heat energy that is stored in the ground as a source of energy.

The core of the Earth is a seething molten mass. It stands to reason that the deeper you dig into the ground, the hotter it is going to be. This heat is largely independent of the air temperature and prevailing weather and climatic conditions. So you have a steady source of heat energy that is waiting to be tapped, and a geothermal heat pump does just that.

Efficiency and Operational Costs

Since the heat source of a geothermal heat pump is independent of fluctuating weather conditions, it can supply a steady source of heat energy. Because of this, geothermal heat pumps have an efficiency that can be as high as 300%. Also, since geothermal heat pumps utilize the heat from the ground, the operational costs are virtually negligible.

Installation Costs

Since the installation of a geothermal heat pump requires specialized knowledge and necessitates digging deep into the ground, the installation costs are quite high. This puts geothermal heat pumps out of the reach of most households. However, the low running costs and efficiency of this system ensures that geothermal heat pumps are idea for larger installations.

Types of Geothermal Heat Pumps

A geothermal heat pump can be of two types: closed loop and open loop. In open loop systems, heated groundwater is pumped up and then circulated throughout the system. However, this water is not reused. In a closed loop system, the same water is circulated in the system again and again. Closed loop systems, although more difficult to design, are more cost effective as compared to open loop systems.


Geothermal heat pumps can be used in a number of settings.

  • Building Heating Systems: Geothermal heat pumps can be effectively used to heat larger buildings and auditoriums. They can also be combined with other heating systems to increase the heating capacity and efficiency.
  • Building Cooling Systems: Although this may seem counter-intuitive, geothermal heat pumps can also be used as a part of a cooling system for buildings. This is because most cooling systems work by passing heat energy over a cooling coil. This heat is normally supplied by the atmosphere, but it can be adapted to utilize the heat from a geothermal heat pump.
  • Swimming Pools: Geothermal heat pumps are also one of the most energy efficient options for heating a swimming pool. This is done through the use of a heat exchanger that is fitted to the pool.