The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of homeowners here in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, have engaged Hepler Geothermal Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that few other means of maintaining an agreeable home environment year-round are as efficient, reliable, or economical, particularlly when you take into account the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

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 something no doubt just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, right under the earth’s crust – that would be, oh, say, 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 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 fairly stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Williamsport (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!

The function, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the purpose of a geothermal heating and cooling system to transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home is maintained at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family happy all year long.

The apparatus that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically fashioned 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 flows through the loops, it absorbs 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 absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The key 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 considerably more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Hepler Geothermal Inc., your Williamsport geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.