The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many residents here in Boone, North Carolina, have enlisted Scott Brothers Heating & Air to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still wary of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, reliable, or affordable, especially when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a treasure likely just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for 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, chiefly of silicates, in which temperatures range 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 fairly constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Boone (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!

What geothermal heating and cooling systems do, then, is transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, as the season dictates. Either way, your home stays at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family happy year-round.

The mechanism that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (commonly made 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 courses through the loops, it sucks up heat from the earth and is reintroduced 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. Looking for details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 don’t only run quieter but also prove much more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than typical HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Scott Brothers Heating & Air, your Boone geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.