The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Utah, Utah, have engaged Utah Geothermal to make their homes geothermal homes. Still leery of geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Comprehending some of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the perks of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that almost no other methods of maintaining a climatically comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, dependable, or ultimately budget-friendly, particularlly when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works that magic.

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 a resource undoubtedly just as valuable to many 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, principally of silicates, in which temperatures run 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 fairly stable year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So? Underground temperatures in Utah (and most places 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!

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, as the season dictates. Either way, your home environment remains at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family comfortable month after month.

The appiance that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of piping (usually fabricated 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 courses through the loops, it absorbs heat from the earth and is returned to your home warm. In Summer, the process is reversed: warm liquid is brought into the loops, where it absorbs the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want 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 putting to use the energy already amply available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are a lot more dependable, need less maintenance, have far longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than standard HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save appreciably more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get hold of Utah Geothermal, your Utah geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.