The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of homeowners here in New Haven County, Connecticut, have hired Nero Air Conditioning and Heating to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would likely help.

We’ve talked elsewhere about the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other means of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately low-cost, particularlly when you take into account 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, as never before, we’re tapping the earth for an asset likely just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – no more than 33,000 feet under our feet – is a layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, chiefly 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 constant year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Meaning? Underground temperatures in New Haven County (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, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home’s interior is maintained at the best possible temperature to keep you and your family happy throughout the year.

The mechanism that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some solution (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (usually 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 flows 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 enters the loops, where it assimilates the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The principal 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 dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, ultimately, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Consult with Nero Air Conditioning and Heating, your New Haven County geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.