A geothermal heat pump or ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a central heating and/or cooling system that transfers heat to or from the ground.
It uses the earth all the time, without any intermittency, as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems, and may be combined with solar heating to form a geosolar system with even greater efficiency. They are also known by other names, including geoexchange, earth-coupled, earth energy systems. The engineering and scientific communities prefer the terms “geoexchange” or “ground source heat pumps” to avoid confusion with traditional geothermal power, which uses a high temperature heat source to generate electricity. Ground source heat pumps harvest heat absorbed at the Earth’s surface from solar energy. The temperature in the ground below 6 metres (20 ft) is roughly equal to the mean annual air temperature at that latitude at the surface.
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