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What makes a geothermal system different from ordinary systems?
Unlike ordinary systems, geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuel to generate heat; they simply transfer heat to and from the earth to provide a more efficient, affordable and environmentally friendly method of heating and cooling. Typically, electric power is used only to operate the unit's fan, compressor and pump.

What are the components of a geothermal system?
The three main parts consist of the heat-pump unit, the liquid heat-exchange medium (open or closed loop), and the air-delivery system (ductwork).

How efficient is a geothermal system?
A geothermal system is three to four times more efficient than the most efficient ordinary system. Because geothermal systems do not burn fossil fuels to make heat, they provide three to four units of energy for every one unit used to power the system.

Is the efficiency rating actual or just a manufacturer's average?
Geothermal heat pumps, as well as all other types of heat pumps, have efficiencies rated according to their coefficient of performance or COP. It's a scientific way of determining how much energy the system produces versus how much it uses. Most geothermal heat pump systems have COPs of 3-4.5. That means for every unit of energy used to power the system, 3-4.5 units are supplied as heat. Where a fossil fuel furnace may be 78-90 percent efficient, a geothermal heat pump is about 400 percent efficient. Some geothermal heat pump manufacturers and electric utilities use computers to accurately determine the operating efficiency of a system for your home or building.

Do geothermal systems require much maintenance?
No. Geothermal systems are virtually maintenance free. When installed properly, the buried loop will last for generations. And the other half of the operation—the unit's fan, compressor and pump—is housed indoors, protected from the harsh weather conditions. Usually, periodic checks and filter changes are the only required maintenance.

What does geothermal mean for the environment?
Geothermal systems work with nature, not against it. They emit no greenhouse gases, which have been linked to global warming, acid rain and other environmental hazards.

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