The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Central Virginia, Virginia, have enlisted Scott Horseman Heating & Air Conditioning Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still apprehensive about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, especially when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for something no doubt just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, just under the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, 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 does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a reasonably consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Central Virginia (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!

The task, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the job 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 environment remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable in every season.

The mechanism that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (typically fashioned 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 takes in 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. Need details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 employing the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove considerably more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than typical HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save a lot more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Scott Horseman Heating & Air Conditioning Inc., your Central Virginia geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.