The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Quite a few residents here in Greensburg, IN, have sought Wallpe Heating & Cooling to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other methods of maintaining a comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for a resource probably just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, right beneath the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, primarily of silicates, in which temperatures run 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 relatively constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Greensburg (and most places stateside, anyway) are warmer than the ambient air above ground in Winter and cooler than the ambient air above ground in Summer.

Time to Get Pumped!

This, then, is what geothermal heating and cooling systems do: they transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home environment stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family happy month after month.

The mechanism that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically fabricated 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 absorbs heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters the loops, where it assimilates the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The principal point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They don’t work 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 much more dependable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Wallpe Heating & Cooling, your Greensburg geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.