The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of residents here in Burlington, North Carolina, have sought Crabbe Service to make their homes geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, especially when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

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 an asset likely just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, just under the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, principally 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Result? Underground temperatures in Burlington (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 stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort in every season.

The apparatus that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (commonly fashioned 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 travels through the loops, it absorbs 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. Need details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 making use of the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove considerably more dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with Crabbe Service, your Burlington geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.