What is geothermal technology?

Geothermal technology relies primarily on the earth's thermal energy to heat or cool a home or multi-family dwelling. Geothermal systems are the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, quiet, and cost effective space conditioning systems available, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Geothermal systems work on a different principle than ordinary furnace/ air conditioning systems, and they require little maintenance or attention from homeowners. A furnace must create heat by burning a fuel—typically natural gas, propane, or fuel oil. With geothermal systems, there's no need to create heat, hence no need for chemical combustion. Instead, the earth's heat is collected in the winter through a series of pipes, called a loop, installed below the surface of the ground or submersed in a pond or lake. Fluid circulating in the loop carries this to the home. An indoor geothermal system then uses electrically driven compressors and heat exchangers in a vapor compression cycle, which is the same principle employed in a refrigerator, to concentrate the earth's energy and release it inside the home at a higher temperature.

In the summer, the process is reversed in order to cool the home. Excess heat is drawn from the home, expelled to the loop, and absorbed by the earth. Geothermal systems provide cooling in the same way that a refrigerator keeps its contents cool—by drawing heat from the interior, not by injecting cold air. In typical systems, duct fans distribute the heat to various rooms. In Casa Bella Verde, an additional energy efficient radiant floor technology is incorporated.