The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of residents here in Lansing, Michigan, have signed on with S&J Heating and Insulation, Inc. to make their homes geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that hardly any other means of maintaining an agreeable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or economical, particularlly when you size up the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

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 a treasure probably just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, 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 does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Result? Underground temperatures in Lansing (and essentially everywhere 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 stays at the optimum temperature to keep you and your family comfortable in every 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 pipe (typically fabricated 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 courses 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 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 specific information on ground loops here.

The central 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 not only run quieter but also are considerably more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save a lot more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of S&J Heating and Insulation, Inc., your Lansing geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.