Ground source heat pumps use pipes which are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home.
A ground source heat pump works by circulating a mixture of water and antifreeze around a reel of pipe, called a ground loop, which is buried in your garden. Heat from the ground is then absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. As the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year.
The length of the ground loop depends on the size of your home and the amount of heat you need. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in.
The benefits of ground source heat pumps
- Can lower your fuel bills, especially if you replace conventional electric heating
- Can receive a regular income through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
- Ground Source heat pumps typically last longer than traditional heating or conditioning systems
- Low environmental impact, with lower home carbon emissions and low energy consumption rates
- No fuel deliveries needed
- Can heat your home as well as your water if required
- Minimal maintenance required – just an annual or biannual service to ensure maximum performance
Unlike gas and oil boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter, they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently. You will also notice that radiators won’t feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler.
Ground source heat pumps are not cheap to install, although costs will vary depending on the size required for the property. But the thing to remember about heat pumps however, is that unlike a traditional electric radiator that turns that 1kWh into one unit of useful heat, a heat pump converts 1kWh into 3.5 or more units of useful heat. So, heat pumps can provide significant savings over traditional heating systems, due to their low running costs. For example, a ground source heat pump can reduce energy bills by at least 26% over a new gas boiler.
Plus, with the income from the governments renewable heat incentive, you can actually make an income from your ground source heat pump!