Consumer Heating and Cooling Education Centre

Heat and Cool Your Home From the Earth

As the mercury begins to rise, Canadians are looking for innovative ways to keep both the temperature and energy bills down. One of the best kept secrets to achieve this is the heat pump, a mechanical system that draws heat from the air, or from the earth and transfers it into the home or vice versa, depending on the season.

Heat pumps work like refrigerators since they use fluids to transfer heat energy from one place to another. That’s why, if you put your hand behind a refrigerator, it is hot. The heat is all the energy that’s been transferred from inside the fridge to outside. A heat pump works the same way. A ground source heat pump that is connected to the earth through a distribution loop allows for a transfer of heat from under the Earth’s surface to the interior of the home and, in the summer, from the home to the ground. So despite the name, heat pumps don’t only replace fuel-burning furnaces or boilers; they can also act as air conditioners.

Because they require no purchased fuel, geothermal (ground source) heat pumps can provide considerable savings over the life of a home. Modern heat pumps can provide up to 75 per cent of a home’s heating needs.

The installation of a geothermal system is a significant project, however, which requires specialized training and knowledge. For example, the ‘loop’ which carries heat energy from the ground to the home, needs to be properly specified and sized; if it is too small, you will not save as much money as you could, because the house will be under-heated and it will have to rely on a backup method more often. Although the up-front investment can be sizeable, so too is the return on investment, providing many years of reliable, low-cost heating and cooling for your you and your family.

If you’re looking to invest in an environmentally-friendly system for heating and cooling a house or building, consider a geothermal heat pump. Be sure to consult with a licensed, qualified contractor to ensure that a heat pump is the appropriate solution. For a list of qualified contractors, visit the Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada at

More Consumer Tips and Information

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Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality

Heating Season Tips

Air Conditioning Season Tips

Finding Qualified Contractors

Have a question or concern that is not addressed here? Contact HRAI directly.

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