The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

More than a few residents here in Long Island, NY, have hired ZBF Geothermal to upgrade their homes to geothermal homes. Still hesitant about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Knowing a little of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve noted elsewhere the rewards of geothermal heating and cooling. Suffice it to say here that hardly any other manner of maintaining a comfortable home environment throughout the year are as efficient, trustworthy, or affordable, especially when you consider the energy savings.

Here’s how geothermal works its 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 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 – 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, for the most part made up 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 year-round temperature of between 45 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Result? Underground temperatures in Long Island (and pretty much everywhere 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!

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 is maintained at the best possible temperature to keep you and your family happy month after month.

The mechanism that handles the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (commonly fashioned 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 travels through the loops, it assimilates 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. Need details? You’ll find more thorough information on ground loops here.

The primary 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 abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems not only run quieter but also are a lot more trustworthy, need less maintenance, have significantly longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over the long haul, you’ll save much more more money by going geothermal.

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