What is a ground source heat pump?
A ground source heat pump is a heating and cooling system that extracts heat to or from the ground. Air is circulated from underground from low temperatures to high temperatures to heat up your home. Typically they are used to heat radiators, heating systems and hot water systems.
They are suitable for new builds, and space is needed in the garden to fit the system in. Heat pumps are only efficient in a fully insulated building.
How does a ground source heat pump work?
- A loop of pipe is buried underground in the garden
- Heat from the ground is absorbed at low temperatures into a fluid inside a loop of pipe
- The fluid in the loop stays stable at 8- 12 degrees Celsius all year round
- The fluid passes through a compressor that raises it to a higher temperature, which can then heat water for the heating and hot water circuits of the house
- The cooled loop fluid passes back into the ground where electricity is then used
- This is passed back to the house to heat it
- The air and water is constantly being renewed naturally.
Advantages of a ground source heat pump
- Lower fuel bills if replacing conventional electric heating system; more efficient
- Provide an income through the government’s new proposal- Renewable HEAT Incentive (RHI)
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions
- No need for fuel deliveries
- Low maintenance once installed
- Save space
- Can increase the overall value of the property
Disadvantages of a ground source heat pump
- Expensive to install- range between £9000 and £17000
- Only some of the heat pumps in their trial actually reduce heating bills
- Not suitable for properties with existing gas- fired wet central heating; technology works at lower temperatures.
- Suited to homes with under-floor heating.
- Planning permission is needed to dig the area in the garden for the GSHP. Garden needs to be suitable for this.
- Electricity is still needed – not 100 percent from renewable sources
- Only recommended for newly constructed houses with insulation and air-tightness that meet the latest building regulations.