The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in Jasper, Indiana, have engaged Hulsman Refrigeration, Inc. to make their homes 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. Suffice it to say here that few other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, dependable, or ultimately low-cost, especially when you tally up 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 something probably just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, 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 relatively consistent year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Jasper (and pretty much everywhere stateside, as it were) 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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home is maintained at the optimum temperature to keep you and your family comfy in every season.

The device that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (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 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’s cooled by the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 making use of the energy already richly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are much more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Hulsman Refrigeration, Inc., your Jasper geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.