What is geothermal energy and how can it be used at home?

Geothermal energy generates electricity and heats buildings using heat stored below the earth’s surface. Has gained popularity recently due to its reliability, environmental friendliness and long term cost effectiveness. This type of energy can be used to power homes and businesses in a number of ways.

So what is geothermal energy and how can it be used at home? Whether you live in a house in Salem, Oregonor a small house in Duluth, Minn., Read on to learn about geothermal energy, including what it is, how it affects the environment, and how you can use it to heat your home.

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source produced by the natural decay of radioactive elements near the earth’s core. The heat then rises to the surface through a process of natural convection. Geothermal energy works by taking advantage of this heat source, either by drilling wells or using a heat exchange system buried in the ground. The heat is then used to generate electricity or to heat and cool buildings.

Another form of geothermal energy is the stable natural temperature of the shallow subsoil.

How do we use geothermal energy?

There is three main uses for geothermal energy: electricity generation, direct use and GeoExchange systems (geothermal heat pumps or GHP). The generation and direct use of electricity are common in commercial and industrial settings and can help meet the world’s needs for renewable energy. However, ground source heat pumps are suitable for most homes around the world and can help reduce your environmental footprint.

Geothermal heat pumps

Depending on the latitude, the shallow soil below the earth maintains a temperature between 45 and 75°F year-round, which means it is often cooler than air in summer and warmer than air in winter. Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of stable underground temperature exchanging heat with the earth to heat and cool buildings.

Geothermal heating systems are incredibly efficient and can work on a large scale to efficiently regulate the temperatures of many buildings. Is called district heating and cooling (or remote heating). Reykjavik, Iceland, is a good case study for this; today, almost the entire city uses geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings.


How to use geothermal energy at home

You can install a geothermal heat pump to heat and cool your home year-round. A heat pump takes advantage of stable underground heat through the use of a series of buried pipes. These pipes transfer the heat to a heat exchanger, which heats or cools the air in your home. In the winter, the heat pump extracts the heat from the exchanger and in the summer, the pump moves the heat towards the exchanger, pushing it towards the subsoil.

Heat pump systems are more efficient than traditional heating and cooling systems because they require less energy to transfer heat and are nearly immune to environmental factors. They also have a longer lifespan and are quieter than other traditional systems.

Your home may also have access to geothermal hot water, which you can use for domestic purposes.

Types of geothermal heat pump systems

There is four common types of ground loop geothermal systems, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s break them down.

  • closed loop horizontal: This is most cost effective for residential installations where a large amount of land is available. The most common designs use two pipes buried four and six feet below ground, or two pipes side by side, five feet below ground. Pipe is often coiled like a vertical slinky to allow more pipe in a shorter trench.
  • closed loop vertical: Vertical systems are most common in commercial settings, such as businesses or schools, where space is often at a premium. The most common design uses multiple holes 20 feet apart and up to 400 feet deep. Looped pipes are inserted into the holes and connected to the heat pump in the main building.
  • Closed loop pond or lake: This may be the most affordable option if you have a suitable water source that meets the minimum prerequisites for volume, depth, and quality. In a water-based system, an underground supply line is run from the building to the water. To prevent freezing, coils must be at least eight feet below the surface of the water.
  • open loop: The installation process consists of running an underground supply pipe from the building to the water source and coiling it in circles at least eight feet below the surface to prevent freezing. Coils may only be placed in a water source that meets the minimum volume, depth, and quality requirements.

Most closed-loop systems circulate an antifreeze solution through a closed loop of pipes buried in the ground or submerged in water. The heat exchangers then transfer the heat between the refrigerant in the heat pump and the antifreeze in the circuit.

Consider your individual circumstances and needs, and consult a professional before installing a ground source heat pump.

sneaky geothermal pipeline

Cost of a geothermal heat pump

Geothermal heat pumps can be expensive. TO typical residential GHP system it can cost between $10,000 and $25,000 depending on the site, size and type of system. The cost can also vary based on factors such as the depth of the ground loops and the complexity of the installation. However, this investment can pay off in the form of lower energy bills over time, as they are highly efficient and can provide significant cost savings compared to traditional heating and cooling systems.

Besides, The United States offers tax credits Promote the use of geothermal heat pumps in both residential and commercial buildings.

Pros and cons of installing a geothermal heat pump

Ground source heat pumps provide a sustainable method of heating and cooling your home. However, they come with some drawbacks. Let’s look at some pros and cons.


  1. Renewable and sustainable: Geothermal energy is a renewable energy source that will exist as long as the earth exists. Also does not produce greenhouse gases or harmful emissions naturally. However, the extraction process can cause emissions, and power plants require fossil fuels to build and maintain.
  2. High efficiency: Geothermal power plants are incredibly efficient. can produce electricity 90% of the time, compared to 59% for wind and 23% for solar. This means they can convert a large percentage of ground heat into usable energy without much wasted heat.
  3. reliable and consistent: Geothermal power plants can operate 24 hours a day and regardless of weather conditions, making them a reliable and constant source of energy.
  4. Small footprint: Geothermal power plants have the smallest footprint of land of any large-scale power source in the world to only 404 m2 per gigawatt hour. This is less than a third of the amount of an average wind farm.


  1. High initial cost: The cost of installing a geothermal heat pump is higher than traditional heating systems due to the need to drill and install underground pipes. Different systems cost different amounts, but the most common type is a horizontal, closed-loop system.
  2. site suitability: Geothermal heat pumps require suitable geology and terrain to install the underground loop system, which may not be available in all areas.
  3. Installation challenges: Installing an underground loop system requires expertise and specialized equipment, which can pose challenges during installation and maintenance and lead to higher costs. Different systems require

How long have people been using geothermal energy?

People have been using geothermal energy for thousands of years. Here are two examples:

  • Hot Springs: From at least 10,000 For years, the native peoples of North America have been using them for cooking, bathing, relaxation, and for medical therapy, among other uses.
  • heat generation: People have used geothermal energy to heat indoor spaces for thousands of years, since at least the 1st century AD. However, it was not until the end of the 19th century that the first geothermal district heating system to heat and cool an entire city was built in Italy.


Final Thoughts on Geothermal Energy

As climate change persists, it is essential to invest more in renewable energy, such as geothermal. Geothermal energy is reliable, emits little to no greenhouse gases, and has a variety of uses and enormous potential for growth. However, the process of drilling and exploration can be expensive and damaging to the environment.

Homeowners can use ground source heat pumps to efficiently heat and cool their homes. These systems use the stable temperature of the subsoil to provide heat during the winter and cooling during the summer.

While geothermal energy is less common than other types of renewable energy, it can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions and meeting global energy demand.

Add Comment