Air-Source Heat Pump vs Ground-Source

Is a conventional air-source heat pump or a ground-source unit better for your home? Which one costs more? Which one less? Do either make your more handsome? Keep reading, and we'll tell you, because we have all the answers. If you already know the answers, keep reading anyway. We love the hits.

When you say 'heat pump', you mean what exactly?

Just so we're all on the same page in regards to functionality, a heat pump works a lot like a traditional air conditioner. Any heat pump, air-source or ground, transfers heat from one location to another in order to cool an interior environment. This heat is transferred via some sort of coolant, water or refrigerant, and exhausted outside.

Unlike a traditional air conditioner, a heat pump can put heat back into the home to keep it warm as the temperature drops. The way the unit works is very simple. All it does is run backwards. Instead of dumping heat outside, it draws in heat from outside, and transfers it into your home.

While air and ground units work similarly, what is it that makes them different?

Air-Source Heat Pump

A conventional heat pump is an air conditioner that can reverse cycle to provide heating. It uses exterior air as a heat source and sink.

Ground-Source Heat Pump

Sometimes called geothermal or earth energy system, this design uses buried heat as a source and sink.

Which is Best?

In terms of overall energy efficiency, a geothermal heat pump beats an air-source heat pump in almost every way possible. Geothermal heat pumps are excellent power managers and typically reduce home heating and cooling costs by substantial amounts.

The downside is that a geothermal heat pump needs access to ground heat to operate. If you don't have that, then you can't use one. In that case, an air-source heat pump is your best bet. Otherwise, go geothermal to get some of the best long term efficiency and savings any HVAC system, heat pump or otherwise, can deliver.

2 comments (view/add)
  • Randy Bargen
    Randy Bargen
    Posted on 8/25/2018

    i live in st.Louis, mo, how much would a typical grd source heat pp save over a air source heat pp in a 1200sq ft area of house.Are we talking 20% or what? Thank You

  • Kyle
    Kyle from Ingrams
    Posted on 8/27/2018

    I'm not sure about what effect the local St. Louis climate would have on a geothermal heat pump. However, I can tell you that heating savings range between 30-70% and cooling between 20-50%. The more efficient the geothermal unit you choose the more you will save. Particularly high local electricity costs also play a role too.


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