The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Port Washington, Wisconsin, have recruited Professional Geothermal Systems to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still suspicious of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining an agreeable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, particularlly when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for something undoubtedly just as valuable to many 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 roughly 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, 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 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. Result? Underground temperatures in Port Washington (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 is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort in every season.

The apparatus that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly 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 enters the loops, where it’s cooled by the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The principal point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They’re not 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 are not only quieter but also much more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Professional Geothermal Systems, your Port Washington geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.