The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Chillicothe, Ohio, have recruited Combs Heating & Cooling to turn their homes into geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve described elsewhere the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately thrifty, especially when you take into account the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, 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 call for oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, for the most part comprised 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 Chillicothe (and essentially everywhere 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!

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 is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable throughout the year.

The mechanism that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically fashioned 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 absorbs 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 takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The primary point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They don’t work 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 reliable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Combs Heating & Cooling, your Chillicothe geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.