The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Quite a few residents here in Greater Cincinnati, Ohio, have signed on with Bill Spade Electric, Heating & Cooling to make their homes geothermal homes. Still apprehensive about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining a comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you size up the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for an asset no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, just beneath 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Result? Underground temperatures in Greater Cincinnati (and most places stateside, as it were) 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 stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort, whatever the season.

The apparatus that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (commonly 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 returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid goes into the loops, where it absorbs 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 central 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 making use of the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove much more dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Bill Spade Electric, Heating & Cooling, your Greater Cincinnati geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.