The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Plenty of people here in Omaha, Nebraska, have signed on with Getzschman Heating & Air Conditioning to make their homes geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve discusseded elsewhere the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other manner of maintaining an agreeable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, dependable, or affordable, particularlly when you factor in the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that 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 no doubt just as valuable to a majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 33,000 feet under our feet – is a stratum of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten blend, 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The upshot? Underground temperatures in Omaha (and essentially 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, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home’s interior is maintained at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family happy throughout the year.

The device that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (commonly made 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 travels through the loops, it sucks up heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more thorough 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also considerably more reliable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than conventional HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with Getzschman Heating & Air Conditioning, your Omaha geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.