Many homeowners are familiar with the large furnace portion of a traditional HVAC (heating ventilation and Semi-Hermetic Compressor Air-Cooled Condensing Unit air conditioning) system; the bulky and loud machine comes to life each winter season. However, homeowners do have more choices when it comes to heating their home. Ground source heating is an alternative to the large heating systems that take up so much space within and around the home. What exactly is ground source heating? Let's take a look at a basic configuration.

A standard ground source heating system uses multiple loops of water pipes located just underneath the ground; they can be installed directly below a home or to the side of the structure. The amount of piping denotes the level of heating power the system will achieve. In general, the more lengths of water pipe loops installed will produce more energy, or heat, for the home, based on the square footage.

Attached to the water pipes is a ground source heat pump. This pump is normally situated inside the home, such as within the basement. As the heat pump operates, it moves water throughout the water pipes. Heat that has accumulated within the ground, even on the coldest winter day, transfers into the moving water within the underground pipes. This heat is effectively transported to the home for distribution as warmth to the homeowners by the circulation of the water to and from the ground and building.

This system also works to cool a home during the summer. Heat from the home moves through the water pipes and distributes it into the ground. As a result, the system can both cool and heat a home efficiently during the various seasons.

Digging underneath or beside a home seems like a drastic heating choice. Why should a homeowner consider this heating choice? Any installation costs will be offset by the fact that a substantial amount of energy will be saved over the life of the system. In fact, homeowners can expect to save approximately 25 to 50 percent on their electrical bill since the system does not use the typical energy that is required of a standard furnace configuration.

Homeowners will enjoy the aesthetics that the ground source heating provides; there is no noisy outside unit that can disturb gatherings, or even the neighbors. Indoor space is freed from the confines of a large furnace system; homeowners have more of a choice when it comes to remodeling a room or storage area.

One of the main reasons to install a ground source heating system is the durability. There are no fans or other moving parts that can easily fail over time. The underground piping is protected by the layer of dirt above it. In fact, warranties for certain piping systems can range between 25 and 50 years, while the heat pump can last as long as 20 years. An almost maintenance free system is a smart alternative to the large and bulky furnace configurations that dominate the heating market.

Overall, choosing a ground source heating system requires some research on the part of the homeowner. Ground layout and attachment to the home's heat pump must be arranged and estimated. However, once the system is in place, the homeowner can reap the rewards of a low energy bill, along with a comfortable home interior during cold winter months. Always remember to carry out a flood risk assesment and get a planning consultant to assess the work if it a large scale job.
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