The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many people here in Kitsap County, WA, have signed on with Thermal Systems to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still suspicious of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a little of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve described elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that few other methods of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment whatever the season are as efficient, reliable, or affordable, particularlly when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a commodity undoubtedly just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, for the most part made up 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 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 Kitsap County (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!

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

The mechanism that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (commonly 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 courses through the loops, it absorbs heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The central point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They’re not 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 considerably more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Thermal Systems, your Kitsap County geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.