How to Control Ground Source Heat Pumps

What You'll Need
Ground source compatible thermostat

The controls to a ground source heat pump, while different from a standard forced-air system, are still relatively easy to use. Understanding how a ground source system works, and using the proper type of thermostat will help you to get the most out of this type of heating and cooling system.

Step 1 – Understanding How Ground Source Heat Pumps Work

Ground source heat pumps work by capturing the innate insulating power of the earth and using it to create heating and cooling options that do not require water or air to be actively heated or cooled, but only pumped from the constantly comfortable source beneath the ground. The other terms for ground source heat pumps are passive or geothermal. Understanding the source of your hot and cool air is important to controlling temperatures within your home. When a furnace is used, changing the temperature on the thermostat automatically 'turns on' the furnace, producing heat. When a geothermal heat pump is used, turning up the thermostat only turns on the pump to bring up the constantly temperate liquid that runs through the pump's loops beneath the earth. Because of this, making sudden or extreme changes in the temperature settings of your thermostat while using a geothermal heat pump may result in damage to the pump or unsatisfactory performance. A ground source heat pump also lacks the outdoor unit common to most home heat pumps, and the controls are usually located where the compressor unit enters the home, as well as at any thermostat that is connected to the heat pump system.

Step 2 – Using the Thermostat to Control Your Ground Source Heat Pump

While a ground source heat pump can operate on a normal thermostat, more and more often specialized thermostats are being used to increase the efficacy of these high efficiency systems. When a heat pump is being used to heat your home in the winter, setting back the thermostat can cause inefficient operation of the unit. Keeping your home at a moderate but comfortable temperature is the most energy efficient and cost effective way to control your ground source heat pump. Be sure that if your heat pump thermostat requires batteries for the electronic readouts, you replace them regularly. The compressor on a ground source heat pump with a dead thermostat will not turn on, and thus will not cool or heat your home.

Step 3 – Maximizing the Efficiency of Your Ground Source Unit

Properly maintaining your heat pump will help to increase its efficiency. You can also maximize the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by making sure to use energy conservation best-practices in the rest of your home. Draw windows during hot and sunny days to reduce thermal gain. Set reasonable comfort expectations for your heating and cooling system to reduce the strain on the system. Using your system in an energy efficient way will increase its lifespan and help you to save on the cost of electricity.