We have been installing Nordic brand geothermal heat pumps for about 15 years. Built locally in Petitcodiac, NB. Nordic has a solid track record and over 35 years experience in the industry. They are the only manufacturer of geothermal heat pumps in Canada. We are an accredited designer/installer by the CGC (Canadian Geoexchange Coalition). This helps ensure top quality installs that perform as expected.
Geothermal heat pumps are electrically powered home heating and cooling devices which transfer heat to and from the earth via a refrigeration process. Heat pumps have been in operation for over 50 years and operate on the same principle as your household refrigerator or air conditioner. The ways to utilize geothermal are: closed loop or open loop.
Closed Loop Systems
Closed loop means pipe is put underground and an antifreeze solution is circulated to absorb the earth’s heat. This heat is carried into the home to the heat pump which concentrates the heat to a higher temperature. It can then be used to heat the home. For building lots with ample space, the pipes can be laid in trenches 6 feet deep. The trenches are back-filled and the land can be used for almost anything. In many cases the land is left in much better shape after the trenching.
For smaller lots, boreholes are drilled and the pipes inserted vertically. No ground water is used; the solid pipe just absorbs heat along the length of itself. Boreholes are more costly than the trenches but take up very little space. The number of trenches or boreholes depends on the size of the house to be heated.
Open Loop Systems
The open loop method uses two wells, drawing water from one well and sending it to the heat pump. The heat pump absorbs the heat from the water, and uses it to heat the home. The cooler water is then returned to the water table via a second well. This method can be more efficient than closed loop if the well yields enough volume of water for the heat pump and domestic usage, plus is free of minerals that can affect the heat pump. The level of water in the well should be near the surface so power required to pump is low.
Heat Distribution in the Home
That’s how we get the heat from the earth; now how should it be distributed inside the home? The two main ways to distribute the heat are: forced air and infloor heat. Forced air uses conventional ductwork to circulate warm air throughout the house. In the summer, the system can be reversed to provide air conditioning.
Infloor heat uses hot water circulated through pipes in the floor of the house. The overpour method of infloor heating (pipes are within concrete) is preferred for its ability to heat the home using the lowest temperature of water. Pipes mounted under the floor (in-joist) can work if designed properly but it is less efficient. The downside to infloor heat, despite its superior comfort in the heating season, is that it cannot provide air conditioning during summer. Ductwork could be installed for A/C in an infloor heat application, although for the increased cost, forced air only might be a better solution.
A nice feature of Nordic heat pumps is that they provide domestic hot water while they are running, to heat or cool the home. Hot-water baseboard heaters require very hot water due to their distance from the occupants of the house. The requirement for very hot water makes this type of heating system incompatible with geothermal heat pumps.
Natural Renewable Energy
Solar heat which has been stored in the earth’s crust provides the inexhaustible source of supply energy for a geothermal heat pump. This energy is replenished each year by the sun during the normal cycle of our seasons.
When compared to an electrically heated home, geothermal heat pumps consume less than 1/3 the amount of electrical energy to heat the structure. Consequently the electric utility company generates only 1/3 the emissions it normally would.
What can a home owner expect from a geothermal heat pump?
- Savings – Savings up to 75% over electric heat as well as possible discounts on house insurance.
- Comfort – Automatic heating, cooling and hot water with a centrally located heat/cool thermostat.
- Cleanliness – A clean operating system with no combustion.
- Durability – Nordic geothermal heat pumps have a solid track record.
- Reliability – Systems are housed indoors and are underground protected from harsh elements. With few moving parts, the systems are very reliable and robust.
- Green energy – Heating and cooling a home with a renewable energy source helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions.