The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in New Jersey, New Jersey, have hired Energy Smarts Mechanical to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would undoubtedly help.

We’ve described elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or economical, particularlly when you take into account the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that possible.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, to an unprecedented degree, 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, close 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, 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 does is keep the ground immediately under the earth’s surface at a fairly stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in New Jersey (and pretty much everywhere 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 environment remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort throughout the year.

The apparatus that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (typically 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 travels through the loops, it assimilates heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid enters 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 central point is that geothermal heating and cooling systems don’t produce energy. They aren’t like central heating systems, which generate heat themselves. Instead, geothermal systems heat and cool your home by mobilizing the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems don’t only run quieter but also prove much more reliable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save considerably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Energy Smarts Mechanical, your New Jersey geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.