The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of people here in Pittsburgh, PA, have hired E & D Company HVAC LLC to make their homes geothermal homes. Still need convincing about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding something of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that few other means of maintaining an agreeable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or ultimately low-cost, especially when you factor in 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, more than ever, we’re tapping the earth for a treasure likely just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t necessitate oil.

You see, close beneath 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 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. Result? Underground temperatures in Pittsburgh (and pretty much everywhere 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!

The purpose, then, of a geothermal heating and cooling system is to|Underground temperatures being what they are, then, it’s the purpose of a geothermal heating and cooling system to transfer heat from the ground  to your home or heat from your home to the ground, in keeping with the season. Either way, your home is maintained at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable, whatever the season.

The appiance that accomplishes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (predominantly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (predominantly 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 flows 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. Need 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 aren’t 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 don’t only run quieter but also prove much more reliable, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than traditional HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Talk with E & D Company HVAC LLC, your Pittsburgh geothermal heating and cooling specialist, today.