The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Georgetown County, South Carolina, have recruited Waccamaw Heating & Cooling to make their homes geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – might help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that few other methods of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, particularlly when you factor in 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 a resource no doubt 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 layer of magma. This is a molten and semi-molten mixture, for the most part comprised of silicates, in which temperatures vary 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 stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Georgetown County (and most places 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!

This, then, is what geothermal heating and cooling systems do: they 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 remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable all year long.

The appiance that effects 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) installed in the ground. In Winter, the liquid is cold when it enters the ground. As it flows through the loops, it assimilates 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 thorough information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 using 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 reliable, 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 a lot more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See Waccamaw Heating & Cooling, your Georgetown County geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.