The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Plenty of people here in Atlanta, Georgia, have enlisted GeoSaves, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that hardly any other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you tally 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 most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, just under the earth’s crust – that would be, oh, say, 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, 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 serves to do is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a relatively constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Atlanta (and most places 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!

The task, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the purpose of a geothermal heating and cooling system to 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 stays at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family comfy in every season.

The apparatus that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (usually 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 assimilates heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The key 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also considerably more reliable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save a lot more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See GeoSaves, Inc., your Atlanta geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.