The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Richmond, Virginia, have signed on with DeltaTemp to make their homes geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would likely help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that hardly any other methods of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, particularlly when you tally up 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, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for a resource undoubtedly just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

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

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

The appiance that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (usually fabricated 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 travels through the loops, it takes in 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. Looking for details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are considerably more dependable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with DeltaTemp, your Richmond geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.