Geothermal heating and cooling systems work by circulating air through a series of loops (pipes connected between the building and the ground) to control temperature. Geothermal systems do not burn any fossil fuels and require very little energy to work.
Deep in the ground a vast amount of stored energy exists. At depths of about 3 meters (10 feet) the temperature remains very consistent, at about what the average yearly temperature is for any given region. In Vancouver that is about 11 degrees Celsius.
During the winter months we rely on a geothermal system to provide heat for our homes. A geothermal system collects the grounds thermal energy and sends it into the house through the series of loops and vents it into the building.
In the summer months this process is reversed. The heat pump collects hot air inside the home and moves it back into the cooler ground. Cold air is returned.
Heat being removed from the building can also be used to efficiently heat a swimming pool and hot water heaters.
A well-designed geothermal system can provide three to four units of heat energy to the building. All ground source heat pumps are rated by an industry standard called the Coefficient of Performance (COP), which typically range from 3.0 to 4.0. This represents efficiencies of 300% to 400%. This type of efficiency does not exist with any other kind of heating or cooling system.