The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, have hired American Air Specialists to make their homes geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – would undoubtedly help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other manner of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or economical, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

Thar’s Gold Heat in Them Thar Hills!

We tap the earth for precious metals. We tap the earth for oil. Now, to a heretofore unparalleled degree, we’re tapping the earth for something undoubtedly just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t call for oil.

You see, just under 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, 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 serves to do 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 Hattiesburg (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 remains at the perfect temperature to keep you and your family happy year-round.

The apparatus that performs the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (typically antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (typically fashioned 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 sucks up heat from the earth and is reintroduced 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 specific information on ground loops here.

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

Curious now? Talk with American Air Specialists, your Hattiesburg geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.