The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Mountain Home, Arkansas, have recruited Custom Heating & Cooling Inc. to make their homes geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that hardly any other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately low-cost, particularlly when you tally up 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for something undoubtedly just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – 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 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 does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Mountain Home (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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable in every season.

The apparatus that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (usually fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) installed 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 goes into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The key 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 making use of the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also much more dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than typical HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save a lot more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Custom Heating & Cooling Inc., your Mountain Home geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.