The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, have signed on with BC's Heating and Air to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would undoubtedly help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other manner of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately budget-friendly, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for something probably just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, just below the earth’s crust – that would be about 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, primarily 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 relatively consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Hattiesburg (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!

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 accordance with the season. Either way, your home’s interior stays at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family happy month after month.

The apparatus that effects 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) buried in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it courses through the loops, it assimilates 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 comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The principal point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They aren’t 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 dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than traditional HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See BC's Heating and Air, your Hattiesburg geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.