The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Plenty of people here in Central Minnesota, Minnesota, have engaged Geothermal Concept to make their homes geothermal homes. Still unsure about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would probably help.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that few other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, dependable, or affordable, especially when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We mine the earth for precious metals. We drill the earth for oil. Now, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for a treasure likely just as valuable to the majority of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t entail oil.

You see, right below the earth’s crust – we’re talking no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a mantle of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten brew, for the most part made up 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 reasonably constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in Central Minnesota (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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable year-round.

The device that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (usually made 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 courses through the loops, it sucks up heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Need details? You’ll find more specific information on ground loops here.

The principal 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 employing 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 significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Geothermal Concept, your Central Minnesota geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.