New Geothermal Heat Pump Uses 50% Less Energy

Working with ClimateMaster — a leading manufacturer of geothermal and water-source heat pumps — the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has achieved a breakthrough in technology to create a geothermal heat pump called the Trilogy 40 Q-Mode™ that can provide residential heating and cooling as well as all domestic hot water needs. It consumes at least 50% less energy than conventional equipment and is about 30% more efficient than any other ground source heat pump on the market.

A conventional geothermal heat pump pulls heat from the Earth and uses it to warm up your rooms and your domestic hot water. When you need to cool your home, the pump pushes heat from inside your home back into the Earth. To learn more about how heat pumps work, watch the video above.

The Trilogy series geothermal heat pump is a bit different. Instead of just pushing or pulling heat around to cool or heat your house, it also uses that heat to provide 100% of your domestic hot water all year long. Conventional ground-source heat pumps can only generate hot water as a by-product when operating to heat or cool your home and typically supply less than 30% of your annual hot water needs. ClimateMaster is producing the Trilogy 40 Q-Mode heat pump at its factory in Oklahoma City.

The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy accelerates development and deployment of energy efficient, renewable energy technologies. It has recently completed a project in conjunction with Ball State University that will save the school $2 million annually in operating costs and cut its carbon footprint by nearly 50%.

Geothermal energy has benefited mankind for millenia. It was used by the Romans to heat their famous baths and by Paleo-Indians to cook their food. Now it can be used to heat and cool our homes more efficiently than anyone ever thought possible, thanks in large part to the researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Source: US Department of Energy


About the Author

lives in Rhode Island and writes about topics at the convergence of technology and ecology. You can follow him on Google + and Twitter.
  • UncleB

    Watch now while “Big Oil” and Central Power corporations make this “unobtainable” just like the EV1 success story.
    My question: If this system can manage modest hot water, can it also manage modest refrigeration? Can it be Solar powered? Wind Turbine powered?

  • Jimpithecus

    I have a friend who has one of these installed behind his house. He had no trouble obtaining it.

  • erikheuler

    you can easily run the pumps needed to run a ground source heat pump with renewable energy such as solar or wind, which i have seen done. haven’t seen it used for refrigeration but it could work in theory, with a sufficiently sized system, would recommend an LCA.

  • vensonata

    Price? The big problem with ground source heat pumps is the trenching infrastructure is 5 to 6 times as expensive as air source heat pumps. The air source pump is a little unit the size of an air conditioner. Installation in a couple of hours. Perhaps $3500 to $7000 installed. Ground source hp $20,000 to $40,000 installed. The efficiency of cold climate air source heat pumps is about C.O.P 3 which means that your heat bill drops be 66%. Ground source is COP 4 which is 75% reduction is heat bill. So for a 9% improvement you will pay $15,000 more. Go figure.

  • vensonata

    Forgot to mention that even an air source heat pump is twice as expensive as roof mounted solar over lifetime energy production, almost anywhere in the U.S. Figuring PV installed at the national average of $3.50 per watt compared to a modest heat pump at 4-5 thousand. The heat pump lifespan is half of PV.
    However, not everyone has a suitable roof for solar, therefore heat pump is a good winter saving alternative. A domestic hot water heat pump will produce about 8 months per year at 66% reduction of energy. Home space heating about 4-5 months at 66% reduction. Pv produces year round and electricity can be used for every purpose. Anyway, these are all nice choices to have.

  • TC

    I beloieve the Europeans have been doing this for a while… perhaps not so ground breaking. They have also combined heating, cooling, DHW with ventilation – fresh air as their new construction and deep-energy retrofit buildings are very air-tight. Great article and thank you for doing this, and we need to step up our game even more. We are behind overall.

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