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Ground Source Heat Pumps: All You Wanted to Know

Posted 22 Sep 2021


If you are considering using renewable energy sources for your heating, then a ground source heat pump (GSHP) is an ideal way to do this. 

Ground source heat pumps are also known as earth-coupled heat pumps due to the fact that they extract heat from the ground in the form of geothermal energy. This means they are much more efficient than other heating systems. 

How does a GSHP work?

A ground source heat pump system can be installed in a property to replace the boiler. A traditional boiler burns fossil fuels to generate heat – usually gas or oil – a GSHP, however, takes its heat from the ground. 

In order to extract heat from the ground,  pipes – known as a ground loop or a collector loop –  that contain a mixture of water and antifreeze are buried in the back garden.  

The liquid circulates in the loop and absorbs heat from the ground. The fluid then passes through a compressor that raises its temperature. It then passes through a heat exchange and then into the heat pump. This heat can then be used for heating the home and hot water. 

The process then continues as the cooled liquid passes through the loop once more.

Depending on the space available, the collector loop is laid out horizontally in a shallow trench around one meter deep. If space is an issue, boreholes between 90 and 160 meters deep can be drilled to accommodate the loop. Due to this, it is essential that a qualified renewable energy installer that specialises in ground source heat pumps is consulted to design the system based on the available space and the heat requirements.

How much does a Ground Source Heat pump cost to install?

Depending on the size of the home and the available space for the collector loop, the cost of ground source heat pump installation can be between £14,000 to £19,000. This is much more than the cost of installing a conventional boiler. 

However, according to the energy saving trust, on average a typical, well insulated, four-bedroom detached house could save up to £435 per year on running costs. There is also financial support available via renewable energy funding in the UK through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive. The domestic RHI scheme pays homeowners for 7 years and the amount is dependent on the amount of renewable heat that is generated by your heating system. 

Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy comes in many forms, from geothermal energy – the type utilised by a GSHP –  to wind, solar power and biomass energy. The main advantage is they will never run out. Using renewable energy creates proven environmental, economic and even human health benefits.

Some of the other benefits of renewable energy are:

  • Reducing harmful air pollutants
  • Lowering your carbon footprint
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Renewable energy uses less water

Is a Ground Source Heat Pump right for me?

In order to evaluate if a GSHP is right for your property there are a few things you should consider:

Do you have space for the ground loop?

A GSHP is better suited to larger properties as there needs to be space to dig a trench or a borehole. You will also need to provide access to digging machinery.

Is your home well insulated?

Ground source heat pumps produce heat at a lower temperature but over a longer length of time than traditional boilers. So to get the most out of the system it’s essential that your property is well insulated.

What type of heating system do you have?

Ground source heat pumps perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.

How can HMS Electrical help?

If you would like to speak to someone regarding the installation of a ground source heat pump or any other renewable energy technologies then please contact us today.