The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, have recruited Moline Heating & Cooling to make their homes geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a little of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately thrifty, especially when you size 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 probably just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, just beneath the earth’s crust – that would be about 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, for the most part made up 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. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Mt. Pleasant (and essentially everywhere stateside, anyway) 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 accordance with the season. Either way, your home’s interior stays at the optimum temperature to keep you and your family happy year-round.

The device that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (usually fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) installed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it travels through the loops, it sucks up 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. Looking for details? You’ll find more comprehensive 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 using the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also a lot more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Moline Heating & Cooling, your Mt. Pleasant geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.