The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Huntington, Indiana, have signed on with Huntington Heating & Cooling Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

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

You see, right under the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, for the most part comprised 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 reasonably stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Huntington (and most places stateside, as it were) 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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable year-round.

The mechanism that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (predominantly fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) buried in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it courses 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’s cooled by the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The central point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They aren’t 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 not only run quieter but also are a lot more reliable, 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 lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with Huntington Heating & Cooling Inc., your Huntington geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.