The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few homeowners here in West Chester, Pennsylvania, have signed on with Sinton Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc. to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still suspicious of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or ultimately low-cost, especially when you factor in 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a resource no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, chiefly 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 reasonably stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in West Chester (and most places 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 stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The mechanism that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (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 flows through the loops, it assimilates heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into 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 central 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 richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove much more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Sinton Air Conditioning & Heating, Inc., your West Chester geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.