The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Mitchell, South Dakota, have recruited Affordable Geothermal LLC to turn their homes into geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, dependable, or economical, particularlly when you size up 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 something no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, for the most part made up 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 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 Mitchell (and essentially 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!

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, depending on the season. Either way, your home’s interior remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The device that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly 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 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 is brought into the loops, where it takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more thorough 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are a lot more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Affordable Geothermal LLC, your Mitchell geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.