The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Panama City, Florida, have signed on with Ridge Heating and Air to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still apprehensive about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other means of maintaining a comfortable home environment year-round are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its magic.

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 something no doubt just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, right under the earth’s crust – that would be, oh, say, 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, 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. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Panama City (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!

What geothermal heating and cooling systems do, then, is transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable month after month.

The device 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 fashioned of polyethylene, high-density polyethylene, PVC, or CPVC) installed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it flows through the loops, it absorbs heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters the loops, where it assimilates the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need 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 harnessing 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 dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than typical HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with Ridge Heating and Air, your Panama City geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.