The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of homeowners here in Knox County, Ohio, have sought Cosby Heating and Cooling to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would likely help.

We’ve discusseded elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other manner of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or economical, especially 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a commodity undoubtedly just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, right beneath 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, principally 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Knox County (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!

The purpose, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the task of a geothermal heating and cooling system to 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 in comfort, whatever the season.

The device that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically 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 flows through the loops, it takes in 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. Need details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 mobilizing the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also a lot more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Cosby Heating and Cooling, your Knox County geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.