The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of people here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, have signed on with Masters Heating & Cooling, Inc. to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still apprehensive about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would likely help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining a comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or ultimately low-cost, especially when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for an asset probably just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, right 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, mainly 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 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 Fort Wayne (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!

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 remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable throughout the year.

The apparatus that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (predominantly 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 absorbs 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. Need details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The key 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 are not only quieter but also much more dependable, 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 lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Masters Heating & Cooling, Inc., your Fort Wayne geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.