· home clean energy credit · 4 min read

What's a Geothermal Heat Pump?

Uncover the potential of geothermal heat pumps, a technology that leverages the Earth's core temperature to heat and cool your home efficiently.

Uncover the potential of geothermal heat pumps, a technology that leverages the Earth's core temperature to heat and cool your home efficiently.

Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs), also known as ground-source heat pumps, have been providing efficient, clean, and eco-friendly heating and cooling solutions since the 1970s. This isn’t groundbreaking news, however, with advanced technology and the inclusion in the Inflation Reduction Act’s Residential Clean Energy Tax Credit, residential Geothermal systems are becoming increasingly popular.

Unlike air-source heat pumps that rely on fluctuating outside air temperatures, Geothermal systems tap into the stable temperature just a few feet below the earth’s surface. This technology is not only energy-efficient but also cost-effective, leading to significant savings over time.

What are Geothermal Heat Pumps…and how do they work?

Geothermal heat pumps, or ground-source heat pumps, are heating and cooling systems that use the Earth’s constant temperature as a medium for heat exchange. This temperature remains consistent, ranging from 45°F (7°C) to 75°F (21°C) depending on latitude, regardless of the extreme temperatures experienced above ground.

Geothermal pumps consist of a heat pump connected to a series of buried pipes, known as a ground loop. A fluid circulates through these pipes, absorbing or relinquishing heat within the ground, depending on the season.

Super wide

Understanding Your Property’s Geothermal Potential

Before you start making investment plans, you have to check your area’s geothermal potential. The geothermal potential varies across the United States, with some areas being more favorable than others. As depicted on the Geothermal potential map courtesy of the U.S. Energy Atlas, certain regions have more potential than others. You can check the geothermal potential of your specific neighborhood using this interactive map.

What are the different types of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems?

There are several types of geothermal heat pump systems, including horizontal, vertical, pond/lake, and open-loop systems. The choice of system depends on factors such as the size of your lot, the soil and rock type at your location, and the local climate.

  • Horizontal Systems: These are cost-effective for residential installations with sufficient land. The pipes are laid out in a horizontal pattern in trenches dug about four to six feet deep.

  • Vertical Systems: Vertical systems are used in large commercial buildings or homes where space is limited. The pipes are installed vertically, reaching depths of up to 400 feet.

  • Pond/Lake Systems: If there’s a sufficient body of water available, pond/lake systems can be the most cost-effective option. The pipes are run in a coiled pattern at the bottom of the water source.

  • Open-Loop Systems: These systems use well or surface body water as the heat exchange fluid, which is drawn from the water source, circulated through the system, and then discharged back into the source.

The Popularity of Dual-Source Heat Pumps

Dual-source heat pumps, which combine an air-source heat pump with a geothermal heat pump system, offer a balance between efficiency and cost. While they may not be as efficient as pure geothermal units, they are less expensive to install. They provide the reliability of geothermal heating and cooling, but with the lower upfront cost of air-source systems. Additionally, they are more readily available in the current market.

Is Geothermal worth it?

The initial installation cost of a geothermal system can be significantly higher than that of an air-source system. However, this initial investment can be offset through energy savings within a period of 5 to 10 years. Furthermore, geothermal systems are renowned for their durability, with indoor components lasting up to 24 years and the ground loop exceeding 50 years. This longevity not only ensures consistent performance but also contributes to an increase in home value, making geothermal heat pumps a wise long-term investment.


“Geothermal energy is the ‘buried treasure’ of renewable energy sources. These efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly heating and cooling solutions represent a smart investment for homeowners. Not only are they beneficial for the environment, but they also offer significant savings over time. As we continue to strive for sustainable and renewable energy sources, geothermal heat pumps stand out as a promising solution.”

Back to Blog