The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Kalkaska, Michigan, have recruited Kalkaska Pumbing & Heating Inc. to make their homes geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve discusseded elsewhere the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately low-cost, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for something no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be, oh, say, 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, primarily of silicates, in which temperatures run 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 consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Kalkaska (and essentially everywhere stateside, as it were) 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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable, whatever the season.

The mechanism that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically fabricated 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 enters the loops, where it’s cooled by the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more comprehensive 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 employing the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are much more dependable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than traditional HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Kalkaska Pumbing & Heating Inc., your Kalkaska geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.