The Science Behind Geothermal Cooling and Heating

If you’re looking for an innovative and energy-efficient way to manage temperatures in your home, geothermal energy offers a valuable solution. Learn more about the science of geothermal heating and cooling, so you can decide if this is the right choice for your Bunn, North Carolina, home.

What is Geothermal Energy?

Geothermal energy is a renewable heat source derived from the ground. The term "geothermal" comes from the Greek "geo" which means earth and "therme" which means heat. Though geothermal energy focuses on utilizing underground heat, this type of system can be used to generate electricity, heating, or cooling. Geothermal energy is constantly available, making it a reliable and convenient choice for both cost-conscious consumers and those who are interested in going green and living lighter on our planet.

How Geothermal Power Plants Work

Geothermal heat pumps are probably the first thing you think of when you consider heating and cooling your home with geothermal energy. However, even a traditional central air conditioner or furnace can use geothermal energy if your home is powered from a geothermal power plant. In the United States, geothermal power plants exist primarily in California and other western states.

Traditional power plants create steam by using fossil fuels to heat water. Geothermal power plants use steam that is naturally produced by an underground geothermal reservoir. This steam then powers turbines which generate electricity. Geothermal power plants are slated for construction in North Carolina. If you have the opportunity to source electricity from a geothermal power plant, you can technically power any furnace or air conditioner in your home with this eco-friendly power source.

How to Create Geothermal Energy in Your Home

You don’t have to have access to a geothermal power plant to heat and cool your home with geothermal technology. Any homeowner with enough land can utilize a geothermal heating and cooling system for their home. Geothermal heat pumps use a ground loop system to draw on the geothermal energy found in the earth.

Roughly 6 feet beneath the surface of the earth, temperatures remain between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. A ground loop system draws on the steady temperatures in this zone to either gather or disperse heat, depending on the needs of the season.

There are two primary types of systems: open loop and closed loop. A closed loop system operates just as the name suggests with a closed loop that’s filled with a recirculating water solution. The loop runs underground either vertically or horizontally. If a water source is nearby, the loops may also pass underwater. An open loop system can only be used in homes that have access to such a water source. The open loop sends water out of the system and into the water source, then draws fresh water up and into the heat pump again.

The Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling

A geothermal heat pump offers both heating and cooling for the home. In the winter, your geothermal heat pump will gather heat from underground when the liquid passes through the loops. The heat pump then draws the heat back up to your home and uses it to warm your living spaces. In summer, the process is reversed as the heat pump pulls heat from the indoor air and disperses it underground, where temperatures are cooler.

A geothermal heat pump can take the place of both your furnace and air conditioner, offering versatile home comfort solutions any month of the year. The underground loops for this installation can last for up to 50 years, so you’ll enjoy an outstanding lifespan from a geothermal heat pump. Since the system draws on the natural temperature of the earth, it uses less power than other HVAC systems. Save money and power with this solution.

Are you interested in installing a geothermal heat pump in your home? You can upgrade your heating and cooling at once with this solution. Our HVAC technicians at Alford Mechanical Heating and Air Conditioning can help. Give us a call to learn more. You can reach our team members at 919-246-5265.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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