The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Greenville, Ohio, have signed on with BARGA Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, 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 few other means of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or affordable, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

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 resource undoubtedly 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, 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. Result? Underground temperatures in Greenville (and pretty much everywhere 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!

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, in keeping with the season. Either way, your home remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable in every season.

The mechanism that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly 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 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 absorbs 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 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 putting to use the energy already amply 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 old-school HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with BARGA Heating, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Inc., your Greenville geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.