The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many people here in Southwest Michigan, Michigan, have hired WaterFurnace Michiana to turn their homes into geothermal homes. Still suspicious of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining a comfortable home environment whatever the season are as efficient, reliable, or ultimately budget-friendly, particularlly when you gauge 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 no doubt just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be about 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, primarily 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 serves to do is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Southwest Michigan (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!

What geothermal heating and cooling systems do, then, is transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, as the season dictates. Either way, your home is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort month after month.

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 piping (commonly fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) installed 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 reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid goes into the loops, where it’s cooled by the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The key 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove much more reliable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save a great deal more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with WaterFurnace Michiana, your Southwest Michigan geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.