The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Quite a few people here in Columbus, Ohio, have signed on with Hottinger Geothermal to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still wary of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would undoubtedly help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that almost no other means of maintaining an agreeable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, dependable, or ultimately budget-friendly, especially when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for something likely just as valuable to most 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 in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, for the most part comprised of silicates, in which temperatures vary 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. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Columbus (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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The device that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (typically fabricated 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 reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid goes into the loops, where it assimilates 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 primary 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove a lot more reliable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with Hottinger Geothermal, your Columbus geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.