Are Geothermal Heaters the Most Efficient?

geothermal-loopsIf you’ve had your HVAC system for a few years already, you understand that the only thing better than a working heater is an efficient heater. Getting comfort at the lowest possible monthly price can become a game in itself, as you try to instill the best heating habits and arrange for maintenance checks at the right time.

However, aside from getting maintenance and changing the air filter on your heater, there are few things you can do to make a serious impact on your efficiency. At that point, what you’d need is a more efficient heating system.

In this post, we’ll talk about if geothermal systems are truly the key to efficient heating in Portland, OR.

What Are They?

A geothermal heating system is essentially a heat pump. But unlike a heat pump, this system transfers warmth from the ground rather than from the air.

The components of the heater that are found inside the home are similar to that of your standard heat pump. However, these systems also have a large set of metal loops that are buried several feet under the ground. This can make their installation a bit more complex but worthwhile for the right homeowner.


Most of this system’s efficiency is derived from the fact that it’s a heat pump.

A typical heater, such as a furnace, uses combustion or electrical resistance to turn fuel into heated air. These processes require far more energy since they’re forced to create heat.

But as for a heat pump, the important thing to know about them is that they transfer or “recycle” warmth rather than generating it. Using a set of coils and the chemical refrigerant, the heat pump is able to facilitate heat transference in two directions. In summer, it can remove heat from your home, leaving you with cool air. In winter, it can take heat from the outdoors and put it into your home.

The Air Source vs. Ground Source Difference

But even within heat pumps are two categories: air source and ground source.

Air source heat pumps take warmth from the air. Even in cold weather, there are still enough warm particles in the air to heat your home. However, if temperatures drop too low, some brands of heat pump will have to kick into “auxiliary heating mode” to make up for the difference. This can actually become more expensive in the long run.

As for a ground source heat pump—such as a geothermal heating system—this won’t ever be a problem. The metal loops absorb warmth from under the soil, where temperatures remain consistent all year-round. The temperature is perfect for heat pump operation, so you’ll never have to worry about inefficiency.

The Verdict

Geothermal heat pumps are certainly one of the most efficient heating systems on the market. However, you’ll need to keep some things in mind:

  • These systems use ducts, and ducts require occasional maintenance to ensure they’re free of leaks and dirt.
  • Geothermal heat pumps are rated to last for decades. If you’re not 100% committed to your current residence, you should hold off on installing this system.
  • While these systems will more than pay off themselves over time, installation is a considerable investment.

To learn more about geothermal heating, contact The Clean Air Act today.

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