The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of people here in Lime Springs, Iowa, have recruited Johnson Comfort Systems, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, dependable, or economical, particularlly when you take into account the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

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 undoubtedly just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 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 relatively consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Lime Springs (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!

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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort year-round.

The mechanism that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically made 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 sucks up 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 specific information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 don’t only run quieter but also prove considerably more reliable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Johnson Comfort Systems, Inc., your Lime Springs geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.