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What Is A Geothermal Heat Pump?


A geothermal heat pump, also called a ground source heat pump, is a type of heating and cooling system. Instead of using fossil fuels, thermal energy from the ground heats and cools your home. Some geothermal systems can even heat water.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), geothermal heat pumps are the most energy-efficient, environmentally clean, and cost-effective systems for heating and cooling buildings. But they are an investment. This is an overview of how they work and how much they cost. Contact a qualified installer for an exact quote.

How does a geothermal heat pump work?

The technology behind geothermal heat pumps relies on the fact that the earth’s underground temperature stays at a relatively constant temperature throughout the year. Ground temperatures are warmer than the air during winter and cooler in the summer.

A geothermal heat pump exploits this natural phenomenon by using electricity to transfer heat stored in the earth or in ground water into your home during the winter, and transfer it out of your home and back into the ground during the summer.

There are four main types of geothermal heat pumps:

  • Open Loop – transfers heat using existing groundwater
  • Pond Loop – absorbs heat from an existing lake or pond
  • Horizontal Loop – transfers heat horizontally across the ground (ideal for large spaces)
  • Vertical Loop – transfers heat vertically through the ground (best for small spaces)

How much does a geothermal heat pump cost?

The exact cost of a geothermal heat pump can vary greatly. Your home’s size, available land, type of soil, climate, current ductwork, and the type of pump you choose affect the total cost. In general, you can expect to pay between $5,000 to $30,000 from start to finish. That covers a home energy audit and installation of both interior and exterior portions.

Upfront, geothermal heat pumps cost more than traditional HVAC systems, and it can seem like an exorbitant amount of money. But over time, geothermal heat pumps pay for themselves through lower energy bills, financing, and government incentives. reports that you may recoup your initial investment in two to ten years.

Rebates and incentives

On average, heating and cooling account for 50% of your home utility costs. That’s a lot of money and a lot of energy, especially if you are using fossil fuels to condition your home’s air. To help more people heat and cool their homes more efficiently, federal and state governments offer sizeable tax credits. Combined, Oregon and Washington have over 250 clean energy policies and incentives. (Be sure to check if the system you select qualifies for available incentives before you make your final purchase.)

According to, you may also be able to include the cost of a geothermal heat pump system in an “energy-efficient mortgage,” which would cover the initial installation. (Consult your bank and mortgage company for more information on these loans.)

Energy savings

Certain geothermal heat pumps like Trane Earthwise™ and Trane Envirowise™ systems can return up to four dollars of heat for every one dollar of electricity used. Depending on the geothermal system you choose, your local environment, and your existing heating and cooling system, you can expect to save several hundred to more than a thousand dollars on your utility bills every year.

In general, geothermal heat pumps require less maintenance than other types of heating and cooling systems. Underground piping can carry warranties of 25 to 50 years, and the heat pumps often last for more than 20 years. Unlike most traditional heating and cooling systems, geothermal heat pumps rarely have outdoor compressors, so they are less likely to be damaged by vandalism. All of these factors combined translate into huge savings!

Learn more about geothermal heat pumps

Are you interested in finding out if a geothermal heat pump is right for your home and how much it would cost? Make an appointment with your local geothermal heat pump professional today.