The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Lexington, Kentucky, have enlisted Arronco Comfort Air, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would undoubtedly help.

We’ve discusseded elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other means of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you consider 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a treasure no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, 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 serves to do is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a relatively constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Lexington (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!

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’s interior remains at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family comfy year-round.

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

The salient 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 not only run quieter but also are a lot more reliable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Arronco Comfort Air, Inc., your Lexington geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.