The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in WISCONSIN-MINNESOTA, Wisconsin, have signed on with Comfort By Design, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve discusseded elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other means of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, especially when you size up the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, to an extraordinary degree, we’re tapping the earth for something probably just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, right below the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, 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 does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a reasonably stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in WISCONSIN-MINNESOTA (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!

The job, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the function 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’s interior remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The apparatus that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (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 travels through the loops, it absorbs heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 making use of the energy already abundantly 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 far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Comfort By Design, Inc., your WISCONSIN-MINNESOTA geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.