When it comes to off-grid living, heating and cooling is one of the most difficult home utility systems to perfect. Additionally in many homes it is very difficult to effectively insulate the home and thus maintain temperature efficiently. Luckily the technology in ground-source (geothermal) heating and cooling has come a long way in recent decades.
For people who aren’t particularly sold on the Earthship, either for aesthetic or other reasons, the geothermal heat pump is the ideal off-grid heating and cooling method for efficiently heating a home without having to build an earthen structure or rely on fuels like propane.
It also allows the off-grid homeowner to increase their sustainability footprint without having to adhere to passive heating and cooling architectures that don’t satisfy their preferences.
A geothermal heat pump simply exchanges heat (hence the term “heat exchanger”) between the home and the ground.
During summer months heat is taken from the interior of the home and deposited into the cooler soil underground. Because the soil has had the entire winter to cool down, its temperature is always cooler than an aboveground structure during the summer.
In the winter the exact reverse process occurs; the heat energy stored in the ground (heat that accumulated all summer) around the home is transferred via the heat pump back into the home until the inside of the home reaches the desired temperature.
In conclusion, geothermal heating and cooling, particularly coupled with solar energy, could truly become a major linchpin, not only in off-grid living, but in the global sustainability revolution altogether.