The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Denver, Colorado, have signed on with WaterFurnace to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a little of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, dependable, or ultimately low-cost, particularlly when you consider 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, to an unprecedented degree, we’re tapping the earth for something no doubt just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, right below the earth’s crust – that would be about 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, predominantly of silicates, in which temperatures range 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. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Denver (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!

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 the perfect temperature to keep you and your family comfy throughout the year.

The mechanism that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (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 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 goes into the loops, where it takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 using the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove much more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with WaterFurnace , your Denver geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.