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Most residential geothermal systems use conventional ductwork to distribute hot or cold air and to provide humidity control. (A few systems use water-to-water heat pumps with one or more fan-coil units, baseboard radiators, or under-floor circulating pipes.) Properly sized, constructed, and sealed ducts are essential to maintain system efficiency. Ducts must be well insulated and, whenever possible, located inside of the building's thermal envelope (conditioned space).
Geothermal heating and cooling systems for large commercial buildings, such as schools and offices, often use a different arrangement. Multiple heat pumps (perhaps one for each classroom or office) are attached to the same earth connection by a loop inside the building. This way, each area of the building can be individually controlled. The heat pumps on the sunny side of the building may provide cooling while those on the shady side are providing heat. This arrangement is very economical, as heat is merely being transferred from one area of the building to another, with the earth connection serving as the heat source or heat sink only for the difference between the building's heating and cooling needs.