The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Big Rapids, Michigan, have engaged Stratz Heating & Cooling, Inc. to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would likely help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other methods of maintaining a comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately budget-friendly, especially when you size up the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, to an extraordinary degree, we’re tapping the earth for something probably just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath 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, chiefly 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 reasonably constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Big Rapids (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’s interior stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable throughout the year.

The appiance that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly made 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 assimilates heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters the loops, where it takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The central 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 mobilizing the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also much more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Stratz Heating & Cooling, Inc., your Big Rapids geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.