The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in , Maryland, have signed on with Ground Loop Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc to make their homes geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other means of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, especially when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, to an extraordinary degree, we’re tapping the earth for something no doubt just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, for the most part made up of silicates, in which temperatures vary from 1300 degrees Fahrenheit to 2400 degrees Fahrenheit and hotter the deeper you go (not that you’d want to go there!). What this serves to do is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a fairly consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in (and most places stateside, in any event) are warmer than the ambient air above ground in Winter and cooler than the ambient air above ground in Summer.

Time to Get Pumped!

The purpose, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the job of a geothermal heating and cooling system to transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment stays at the optimum temperature to keep you and your family comfy throughout the year.

The device that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) placed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it flows through the loops, it takes in heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The key point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They’re not like central heating systems, which generate heat themselves. Instead, geothermal systems heat and cool your home by using the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also a lot more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Ground Loop Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc, your geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.