How Geothermal Works

How Geothermal Works

How does geothermal work?

Geothermal technology uses the constant and abundant energy source below the earth surface, to extract heat in the winter and to deposit unwanted heat in the summer. When it is cold outside, it is 45 degrees in the ground; and when it is hot outside, it is 45 degrees in the ground.

Requiring little energy compared to less efficient conventional cooling systems, the constant 45 degree ground temperature will efficiently absorb unwanted heat while conventional cooling systems dump unwanted heat into an already warm outside atmosphere. In the case of heating, geothermal systems use the earth’s already warmer than outside air temperatures to heat, compared to conventional systems which must create the necessary energy to heat from nothing.



A geothermal system is made up of three parts:


1. Geothermal heat pump

This is installed in your building and moves the water-based solution through the loops and to your distribution system. 

07-geothermal-step 2

2. Ground Loop

These loops are installed underground. In West Union, these are on the grounds of the courthouse. A water-based solution circulates through the pipes. 


3. Distribution System

This is also installed inside your building. Your distribution system may be forced air or radiant heating/cooling. 

How does it heat and cool my building?

Click on or hover over the numbers in the graphics below to learn more about the geothermal process.


Geothermal pump moves solution through pipes


Solution gains heat from warmth underground


Heat is dispersed through vents 


In the winter, heat energy is removed from the ground and distributed to the building through the heating distribution system (forced air, in-floor heat, radiator, etc).


Geothermal pump moves solution through pipes


Solution disperses heat to cooler underground


Cool air is distributed through vents 


In the summer, the cooler ground absorbs warm energy transferred from the building and returns cooler air through the cooling distribution system (forced air, in-floor, etc).

How does the West Union geothermal system work?


The West Union district geothermal system is made up of  three parts:

  • The ground loop heat exchanging system is composed of 132 vertical wells, in the courthouse lawn, which are 300 ft deep.

  • The district distribution system - over 5,500 feet of 8 inch pipes in the downtown streets connecting to 70 business and building lots in downtown West Union

  • Customer-owned or local piping and HVAC equipment.

Connected buildings utilize the shared system’s ground loop heat exchanger and distribution system to distribute the heat exchanging water and glycol (antifreeze) solution. Connected buildings use the customer owned heat pumps to heat and cool the building space. The shared components are an advantage for businesses with limited space to install private geothermal wells or loop fields. Additionally the shared system eliminates expensive construction costs. Users of the system pay a monthly users fee to cover operation costs of the shared district components

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