The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A good many people here in Indianapolis, Indiana, have engaged Bassett Services Inc. to transform their homes into geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the merits of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s quite sufficient to say here that few other manner of maintaining an agreeable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, reliable, or affordable, particularlly when you gauge the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its 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 something undoubtedly just as valuable to most of us: the energy to heat and cool our homes that doesn’t involve oil.

You see, close beneath the earth’s crust – that would be in the neighborhood of 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 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 Indianapolis (and pretty much 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!

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 is maintained at the best possible temperature to keep you and your family happy, whatever the season.

The device that effects the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some blend (usually antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (usually 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 takes in heat from the earth and is reintroduced 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. Need 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 aren’t 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 much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than typical HVACs. That’s also why, in the long run, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? Get together with Bassett Services Inc., your Indianapolis geothermal heating and cooling professional, today.