Currently, schemes based on seminal empirical knowledge about energy piles subjected to mechanical and thermal loads are available to describe the response of such foundations. However, schemes based on theoretical principles may more closely reflect the predictions made for the analysis and design of energy piles. Looking at such challenge, this paper presents thermo-mechanical schemes based on thermo-elasticity theory to address the response of single energy piles to mechanical and thermal loads. The proposed schemes highlight a number of key aspects associated with the modelling of energy pile response to loading and may be considered in analysis and design. © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019.