The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of people here in Annapolis, MD, have signed on with Continental Services to make their homes geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a little of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, dependable, or economical, particularlly when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

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 a commodity undoubtedly just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, just below the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, 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 does 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 Annapolis (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 function, 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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort throughout the year.

The apparatus that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically 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 flows 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 assimilates the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more specific 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 mobilizing the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are much more dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Continental Services, your Annapolis geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.