The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Dexter, Michigan, have hired Haley Mechanical to make their homes geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other means of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, dependable, or affordable, particularlly when you consider 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for a commodity no doubt just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, right beneath the earth’s crust – that would be roughly 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, 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 reasonably constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Dexter (and most places 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!

The job, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the purpose of a geothermal heating and cooling system to transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, in keeping with the season. Either way, your home remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The mechanism that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly fashioned 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 travels through the loops, it sucks up 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. Want details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove considerably more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Haley Mechanical, your Dexter geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.