Geothermal heat pumps - or GHPs - have been in use since the late 1940s. They use the constant temperature of the earth as the exchange medium instead of the outside air temperature. This allows the system to reach fairly high efficiencies of 300% to 600% on the coldest winter nights, compared to 175% to 250% for air-source heat pumps on cool days.
As with any heat pump, geothermal and water-source heat pumps are able to heat, cool, and, if so equipped, supply the house with hot water. Some models of geothermal systems are available with two-speed compressors and variable fans for more comfort and energy savings. Relative to air-cooled heat pumps, they are quieter, last longer, need less maintenance, and do not depend on the temperature of the outside air.