The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A number of residents here in Knoxville, Tennessee, have hired Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending a bit of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that almost no other means of maintaining apleasant home environment whatever the season are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal makes that a reality.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We dig in the earth for precious metals. We dig in the earth for oil. Now, to an extraordinary degree, we’re tapping the earth for an asset probably just as valuable to many of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, just below 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, mainly 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. Result? Underground temperatures in Knoxville (and essentially everywhere stateside, anyway) are warmer than the ambient air above ground in Winter and cooler than the ambient air above ground in Summer.

Time to Get Pumped!

The task, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the task of a geothermal heating and cooling system to 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 stays at the ideal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort year-round.

The device that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (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 absorbs heat from the earth and is reintroduced to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid goes into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Looking for details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

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

Curious now? Talk with Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., your Knoxville geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.