The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many homeowners here in Lane County, Oregon, have enlisted Comfort Flow Heating to make their homes geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve described elsewhere the virtues of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that few other means of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, especially when you factor in 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, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for an asset no doubt just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, just beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, mainly 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 serves to do is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a fairly consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Lane County (and pretty much everywhere 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!

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

The mechanism that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (typically fashioned 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 flows through the loops, it takes in heat from the earth and is returned 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. Looking for details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The central 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 making use of the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove considerably more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Comfort Flow Heating, your Lane County geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.