The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Starkville, Mississippi, have signed on with Mid South Air Conditioning, Inc. to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that few other methods of maintaining an agreeable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately thrifty, especially when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

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 something likely just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, for the most part made up 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 relatively stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Starkville (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!

The function, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the task 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 environment is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable, whatever the season.

The appiance that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (commonly 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 is brought into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for 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 don’t work 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 are not only quieter but also a lot more reliable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the end, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Mid South Air Conditioning, Inc., your Starkville geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.