The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Central Ohio, Ohio, have enlisted Westin Air to make their homes geothermal homes. Still wary of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, especially when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for a resource undoubtedly 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 beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, chiefly 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 does 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 Central Ohio (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!

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 stays at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family comfy year-round.

The mechanism that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (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 flows 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 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 thorough information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 using the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also much more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than traditional HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Westin Air, your Central Ohio geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.