The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of residents here in Meridian, Mississippi, have sought Heblon Heating & Air Conditioning Co. to turn their homes into geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other methods of maintaining a comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately thrifty, especially when you tally up 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, to a heretofore unparalleled degree, we’re tapping the earth for a treasure no doubt just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, right below the earth’s crust – that would be about 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, for the most part comprised 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Meridian (and pretty much 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 keeping with the season. Either way, your home’s interior remains at the best possible temperature to keep you and your family comfy all year long.

The mechanism that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly fashioned 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 travels through the loops, it absorbs 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 takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The central 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 making use of the energy already richly 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 much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than traditional HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Heblon Heating & Air Conditioning Co., your Meridian geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.