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The Basic Science of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Scores of people here in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, have sought J & J Air to turn their homes into geothermal homes. Still need persuading about geothermal heating and cooling yourself? Understanding a smidgen of the science behind it – and the mechanics as well – may help.

We’ve written elsewhere about the advantages of geothermal heating and cooling. It’s enough to say here that hardly any other means of maintaining apleasant home environment all year long are as efficient, reliable, or affordable, especially when you consider 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 an asset no doubt 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 – 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 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 Myrtle Beach (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!

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, in accordance with the season. Either way, your home’s interior stays at an optimal temperature to keep you and your family in comfort year-round.

The mechanism that executes the transfer is a geothermal heat pump. It continuously circulates water or some mixture (commonly antifreeze) between your home and loops of pipe (commonly 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 travels 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 takes in the cooler ground temperatures before it’s returned to your home. Want details? You’ll find more comprehensive information on ground loops here.

The salient 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 using the energy already abundantly available beneath the earth’s surface. That’s why geothermal systems are not only quieter but also considerably more dependable, need less maintenance, have much longer lifespans, and are more environmentally friendly than old-school HVACs. That’s also why, over time, you’ll save lots more more money by going geothermal.

Curious now? See J & J Air, your Myrtle Beach geothermal heating and cooling authority, today.