Geo-Xergy Systems Inc.

Ground Source Energy vs. Geothermal Energy

There is a lot of confusion around what ground source energy systems and geothermal systems are because the terms are often used interchangeably. Typically, the word “geothermal” has been used to refer to both since each system exchanges energy below the earth’s surface.

The main difference:

Ground source energy systems create a recycling of energy using a ground-coupled heat exchanger (piping underground), a heat pump, and a distribution system (forced air or radiant) to circulate warm or cool air throughout a building.

  • In the summer, heat from the building is stored in the ground in order to keep the building cool.
  • In the winter, the stored heat in the ground from the summer is retrieved for more efficient heating during the winter months.

Ground source energy systems can be quite complex. The temperature of the ground needs to be taken into account and balanced with every system. Energy modelling and creative design by our team of professionals carefully accommodates for the amount of heat being released and extracted from the ground throughout the year. Learn more about ground source energy systems and how it all works.

Although this one-minute video describes the process as “geothermal heating”, it actually shows you how ground source energy works to heat or cool your home:


Geothermal energy is similar, however, it just uses heat from deep within the earth’s core, such as from hot springs. True geothermal energy has been limited to areas around the Earth’s tectonic plate boundaries; it is limited to areas where there is volcanic activity relatively close to the surface of the earth. Geothermal systems do not need a heat pump or ground loop system.

Geothermal energy is used to create heating for homes and buildings – such as in Iceland – or is used by geothermal power plants to create electricity at large-scale plants.