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Ground Source Heat Pumps Explained: A Comprehensive Guide

Ground source heat pumps are one of the most efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to heat your home. They work by extracting heat from the ground and using it to warm your home. The UK government wants to incentivise people with special grants to switch from gas boilers to more sustainable alternatives, so you might be able to claim a ground source heat pump grant.

But what are ground source heat pumps? How do they work? And what benefits can you expect from having one installed in your home?

These are just some of the questions we will answer in this comprehensive guide: Ground Source Heat Pumps Explained.

Interested in installing a ground source heat pump in your home? Enter your postcode here to find out what financial assistance you may be entitled to.

What are Ground Source Heat Pumps?

Ground source heat pumps, or GSHPs, are a type of heating system that extracts heat from the ground and uses it to warm your home. They are considered to be a better alternative to traditional gas boilers because they are more efficient and environmentally friendly.

GSHPs work by extracting heat from the ground using a series of pipes that are buried in the ground. This heat is then used to warm your home. The temperature of the ground remains relatively stable all year round, which means that GSHPs are able to provide a consistent level of heat throughout the year.

There are three elements to a ground source heat pump: the heat pump itself, a ground heat exchange loop a heat distribution system.

The heat pump is the part of the system that extracts heat from the ground and uses it to warm your home. The ground heat exchange loop is a series of pipes that are buried in the ground. This loop collects heat from the ground and transfers it to the heat pump. The heat distribution system is the part of the system that delivers warmth

Within these elements, the most important components are the heat exchanger, the compressor and the condenser. The heat exchanger is responsible for extracting heat from the ground, while the compressor and condenser work together to convert this heat into usable energy.

How Efficient are Ground Source Heat Pumps?

Ground source heat pumps are one of the most efficient heating systems available. They are able to achieve an efficiency rating of between 300 and 400%. This means that for every unit of energy required to run the pump, it will produce between three and four units of heat.

This level of efficiency means that GSHPs can save you a significant amount of money on your energy bills. In fact, it is estimated by the Energy Savings Trust, that the average household could save as much as £1,400 a year.

Interested in installing a ground source heat pump in your home? Enter your postcode here to find out what financial assistance you may be entitled to.

How to Maximise Your GSHP Efficiency

There are a number of things you can do to maximise the efficiency of your ground source heat pump:

Use Solar Panels or a Wind Turbine

If you have access to renewable energy, you can use it to power your ground source heat pump. This will increase its efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint while also saving you money on your energy bills. You can get help with the purchase and installation costs of both solar panels and wind turbines through the Boiler Upgrade and ECO4 Schemes (see below for more information).

Use Additional Electric Heaters

If you have a ground source heat pump, you don’t need to use your central heating system as much. However, if there are times when you need more heat, you can use additional electric heaters rather than turning on your central heating system. This will help to keep your energy bills down and further reduce your carbon footprint.

digging trenches for ground source heat pumps

How are Ground Source Heat Pumps Installed?

Ground source heat pumps are usually installed by a qualified engineer. The installation process will first involve the excavation of a trench in which the ground heat exchanger pipes will be buried. These are then connected to the heat pump, which is installed in your home.

The whole installation process can take between two and four days and will require relatively intrusive excavation. If you have a GSHP installation scheduled, it may be a good idea to speak to your neighbours and let them know in advance.

It is also important to note that GSHP installation can be expensive, so it is important to factor this into your decision-making process. However, there are a number of government grants available to help offset the cost of installation (explained later in this article).

How Much Space Do You Need for a Ground Source Heat Pump?

One of the potential drawbacks of ground source heat pumps is that they require a certain amount of space in order to be installed. The ground heat exchanger pipes need to be buried in a trench, which means that there needs to be enough space on your property for this to happen.

Generally speaking, you will need at least 25 square metres of space for a GSHP, and while this is not a lot if you have even a relatively small garden, it is something to consider if you have limited space.

Interested in installing a ground source heat pump in your home? Enter your postcode here to find out what financial assistance you may be entitled to.

How Much do Ground Source Heat Pumps Cost?

The cost of a ground source heat pump will vary depending on the size and complexity of the system. However, here are the three most common types of GSHP and how much you can expect to pay to have one installed:

  1. 6-8KW Horizontal ground source heat pump: £10,000 – £12,500
  2. 12KW Horizontal ground source heat pump: £15,500 – £17,500
  3. 12KW Vertical system (requires extensive excavation) – Up to £30,000

In addition, you will also need to consider maintenance costs. However, these are relatively low and typically cost around £100 per year.

Government Grants Available for Ground Source Heat Pumps

Clearly then, installing a ground source heat pump is not cheap which is why there are a number of government grants available to help you offset the cost of installation. These include:

Ground Source Heat Pump Grant

This is part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and is available to all homeowners who install a ground source heat pump. This grant is worth up to £6,000 and can be used to help pay for the cost of installation. To find out more about whether you qualify for the grant, enter your postcode here.

ECO Scheme

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme is a government initiative that helps homeowners reduce their carbon emissions. One way in which it does this is by providing financial assistance towards the cost of installing energy-efficient measures, such as ground source heat pumps.

In addition to GSHPs, there are other grants available through ECO for things like home insulation, solar panels and energy-saving appliances. These grants are all designed to help you reduce your energy bills and make your home more environmentally friendly.

The amount of money you can receive through the ECO scheme depends on a number of factors, including your income and the type of heating system you currently have. You can find out more about whether you qualify for the scheme and how much money you could receive by visiting this website.

How to Apply for Financial Assistance

If you are interested in applying for financial assistance towards the cost of installing a ground source heat pump, then you will need to contact your local energy supplier. They will be able to tell you whether you are eligible for any of the government grants mentioned in this article and guide you through the application process.

Interested in installing a ground source heat pump in your home? Enter your postcode here to find out what financial assistance you may be entitled to.

installing ground source heat pump

Benefits of Ground Source Heat Pumps

There are a number of benefits to installing a ground source heat pump including:

Cheaper Energy Bills

As mentioned earlier, GSHPs are incredibly efficient and can save you hundreds of pounds a year on your energy bills. This is because a GSHP uses up to 50% less energy than traditional heating systems, meaning you will be using cheaper, renewable energy to heat your home.

Environmentally Friendly

GSHPs are one of the most environmentally-friendly ways to heat your home. They do not produce any carbon emissions, making them a great choice for those who are looking to reduce their carbon footprint. The UK government have reiterated their commitment to increasing the use of GSHPs in recent years, with the aim of reducing CO emissions by 80% by 2050.

Government Financial Assistance

As we have seen, there are a number of government grants available to help homeowners pay for the installation of a ground source heat pump. These grants are not small and can be worth up to £6000, so it is worth checking to see if you are eligible.

Drawbacks of Installing a Ground Source Heat Pump

Although there are many benefits to installing a ground source heat pump, there are also a few drawbacks that you should be aware of. These include:

Expensive Installation

As we have seen, the cost of installing a ground source heat pump can be quite expensive. However, this expense can be offset by the various government grants available and by the savings in

Intrusive Excavation

In order to install a ground source heat pump, an excavation will need to be carried out. This can be quite intrusive and some homeowners may not be happy with the amount of space it takes up in their garden.

Unsuitable for homes with gas-fired central heating

Ground source heat pumps are not suitable for homes that have a gas-fired central heating system. If you have this type of heating system, you will need to replace it with an electric heating system in order to install a GSHP.

Alternatives to Ground Source Heat Pumps

There are two main, alternatives to GSHPs, which are gas boilers and air source heat pumps.

Gas Boiler

A gas boiler is the most common type of heating system in the UK. It is cheap to install and relatively easy to maintain. However, it is not as efficient as a ground source heat pump and produces large amounts of carbon emissions. The UK government has committed to phasing out gas boilers in the coming years with no new homes being permitted to have them from 2025.

Air Source Heat Pump

Air source heat pumps are also a very efficient and environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional gas boiler. They work by extracting heat from the air outside and using it to heat your home. Although they are more expensive to install than a gas boiler, they can also save you money in the long run because they are more efficient. You can also get money through the Boiler Upgrade and ECO4 schemes if you want to install an air source heat pump and you can find out more about the help available by entering your postcode here.

Interested in installing a ground source heat pump in your home? Enter your postcode here to find out what financial assistance you may be entitled to.

Warm happy woman with ground source heat pump

Conclusion

We hope that this guide, Ground Source Heat Pumps Explained, has answered some of the questions you had about them. Ground source heat pumps are a great way to reduce your energy bills and help the environment while also helping the country to achieve its goals of reducing carbon emissions. If you are interested in installing one, be sure to take advantage of the government grants available and speak to a qualified installer.

For more information about the grants available to you, enter your postcode here.

Clive Whyte

I'm Clive, a sustainability advocate and green energy expert. I have over 25 years of industry experience and now I spend my time sharing my knowledge online with the hope of educating Britain towards a more sustainable future.