The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Quite a few residents here in Medina, Ohio, have recruited Sisler Heating & Cooling, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that almost no other means of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately thrifty, especially when you tally up 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, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for something 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, just under the earth’s crust – that would be roughly 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, predominantly 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 reasonably constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Medina (and pretty much 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!

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 the optimum temperature to keep you and your family comfy month after month.

The mechanism that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically made of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) placed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it courses through the loops, it absorbs 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. Need 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 don’t work 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 reliable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Sisler Heating & Cooling, Inc., your Medina geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.