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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are a form of renewable energy that draws heat from the ground. They are fast growing in popularity thanks to their eco-friendly credentials and their earning potential. Geo Green Power has years of experience in the design and installation of domestic GSHPs and non-domestic GSHPs, please contact us today if you would like to learn more about a potential GSHP installation.

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How Do GSHPs Work?

GSHPs work by extracting heating from the ground. A large loop of pipe, known as a ground loop is placed in the ground or through a body of water – the pump then circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around this loop. Heat from the ground or water is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, this means that unlike some forms of renewable energy, heat pumps can be used throughout the year.

A key aspect of how GSHPs work is the physical size of the loop. The length of the loop depends on the size of the heat pump required and therefore the amount of heat required per annum. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in.

It is typical for the loop to be laid flat or coiled in trenches just over a metre deep. If space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead, but if there is not enough space a vertical borehole can be dug to a depth of up to 100 metres. Heat pumps have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, the air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.

Some property owners choose to combine their heat pump with a solar PV to gather the electricity needed for the pump. This would make the system entirely eco-friendly.

What are the benefits of Ground Source Heat Pumps?

There are many great reasons to choose to have a GSHP installed under your property.

  • They can lower your fuel bills – drawing heat from the ground means you will face cheaper energy bills as you will require less in electricity and gas to heat your property. This is especially true if you replace conventional electric or oil heating.
  • Provide you with income – the government has set up a Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI) which can provide you with payments in return for the heat generated.
  • Lower your carbon emissions – using less electricity means that you are reducing your carbon emissions and benefiting the environment.
  • No fuel deliveries required – as you draw heat directly from the ground you will require no, or fewer, fuel deliveries.
  • Minimal maintenance required – GSHPs are built to last and require very little in the way of maintenance.

Is a GSHP suitable for my property?

GSHPs are more suited to some properties than others, so let’s take a look at some questions to establish whether it could be right for yours:

  • Is your property suitable for a ground loop? It doesn't have to be particularly big, but the ground needs to be suitable for digging a trench or a borehole and accessible to digging machinery.
  • What fuel will you be replacing? The system will pay for itself very quickly if it is replacing an electricity, oil, coal, or bottled gas heating system. Heat pumps may not be the best option for homes or businesses using mains gas but the return on investments can still be very good, for example, farmers using mains gas for drying processes.
  • What type of heating system will you use? GSHPs can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.
  • Is the system intended for a new development? Combining the installation with other building work can reduce the cost of installing the system.
  • Will the GSHP work with my existing radiators? Heat pumps can be used to power the majority of heating systems, but they work particularly efficiently when partnered with larger heating surfaces such as underfloor heating and radiators with large surface areas.

Horizontal vs. vertical – what’s the difference?

One aspect of heat pumps to note is that systems can be installed either horizontally or vertically. It is important to have a loop of pipe that is large enough to extract heat effectively, and the two types of systems are used depending on the size of your property.

  • Vertical systems are typically more expensive to install, and require specialist equipment in order to drill the boreholes. However, they can be built with relatively little space. This makes it ideal for properties with less physical space.
  • Horizontal systems require more land to install, as there is clearly the need for a larger space than a vertical system, however, groundwork is cheaper as it only requires a trench for the system to be placed within, rather than deep boreholes.

GSHP installation explained

It is important that you have your ground source heat pump installed correctly. To ensure this, you should work with an experienced Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) installer. It should be noted that you need to work with an MCS installer in order to qualify for RHI payments.

It is best to install a GSHP during a time of building – either during a new build or in the renovation of an old property. This is to allow your pump to be integrated into the system as a whole easily without causing significant disruption. If systems are installed correctly, they will be more efficient and last longer.

How much land do you need for a heat pump?

A typical GSHP system may use around 100m of pipework; this means that you need to have the physical space to accommodate it. This is where the choice between horizontal and vertical systems can become important – if you don’t have the horizontal space for 100m of pipes, a vertical system may be the only option.

While it is true that having a large property gives you a broader range of options, it should also be noted that GSHPs can be built at properties of almost any size.

How much does a GSHP cost?

The cost of a GSHP depends very much on the size of the system and a number of other factors such as the complexity of the required groundworks. The Energy Saving Trust estimates a cost between £10,000 and £18,000 to install a standard system in your home. However, this cost can increase if there are more complicated elements to your GSHP installation.

Some of the costs include:

  • Groundworks
  • The pump
  • Converting current heating systems
  • Additional works on the property

How does a heat pump save money?

A GSHP can be a fantastic investment saving you a significant amount of money over the course of its lifespan – but where do these savings come from? Firstly, it should be noted that GSHPs are eligible for Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme payments, which can contribute a significant amount of money towards the cost of the system.

However, you can additionally look forward to savings on your energy bills as your GSHP will provide you with free heating. Once again, this is variable depending on the type of GSHP you install, as well as your existing system. GSHPs are actually most efficient when working in conjunction with underfloor heating.

Do you need planning permission for a GSHP?

Under normal circumstances, GSHPs are usually considered to be permitted development, and as such you do not require planning permission. However, it is always best to seek the advice of your local council to establish whether you need to obtain planning permission in order to install your GSHP. The specifics of your property may also mean that you are required to gain permission before making significant changes – for example, if your property is a listed building.

Are ground source heat pumps worth it?

GSHPs have a full range of benefits that make them suited to many properties – they can lower fuel bills, and are especially valuable if you are replacing electric heating. As well as being a financial benefit to your property, they are also naturally good for the environment. Of course, this does mean an investment in your property. If you aren’t sure whether a heat pump is the right choice for you, we recommend speaking to renewable energy experts.


How GSHPs Can Help You Save Money

Ground source heat pumps can actually save you a great deal of money on your property. But how much you can save will depend on factors such as what kind of system you currently have, and what kind of pump you are replacing it with. The following factors influence the savings you can make:

  • Your heat distribution system – underfloor heating can be more efficient than radiators because the water doesn't need to be so hot. If underfloor heating isn't possible, use the largest radiators you can.
  • Your fuel costs – you will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because they are powered by electricity, but you will save on the fuel you are replacing.
  • Your old heating system – if your old heating system was inefficient, you are more likely to see lower running costs with a new heat pump.
  • Water heating – if the heat pump is providing hot water then this could limit the overall efficiency. You might want to consider solar water heating to provide hot water in the summer and help maintain your heat pump efficiency.
Existing SystemFuel Bill Savings
(£/year)
RHI Payment
(£/year)
1st April 2015 - 31st March 2016
RHI Payment
(£/year)
1st March 2016 - 30th June 2016
Carbon Dioxide Savings
(kg CO2/year)
Gas older (non-condensing) £400 to £660 £2,555 to £3,955 £2,590 to £4,005 2,100 to 3,300 kg
Electric (old storage heaters) £790 to £1,425 6,700 to 11,700 kg
Oil older (non-condensing) £130 to £220 3,000 to 4,700 kg
LPG older (non-condensing) £960 to £1,500 2,800 to 4,500 kg
Coal £590 to £990 7,600 to 12,100 kg

How Do I Generate My Returns?

Renewable heating systems provide an excellent return on investment. For every kWh of heat your system generates you’ll receive an RHI payment. This payment varies depending on the capacity of your system and the amount of heat you generate, however, the RHI is generous and based on these payments alone your scheme should provide a return on investment of approximately 15% per annum.

Is a Ground Source Heat Pump right for me? | How Do I Generate My Returns?

The heat is generated at a lower cost than heat sourced through conventional means such as mains gas, oil and electricity. Therefore, you’ll also see a significant reduction in your energy bills. On average a ground source heat pump will generate 4kWh of heat to every 1kWh or electricity used to power the pump, reducing your energy consumption and bills.

Overall taking into account the RHI payments and bill savings, a renewable heating scheme will provide a return on investment of approximately 15% per annum.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) cash payments are made quarterly. This can be across 7 or 20 years depending on the contract that you have entered into. The actual amount you will receive on various factors including:

  • The technology you have installed
  • The tariffs on the technology at the time
  • Metering
  • Whether the installation is domestic or commercial

Domestic RHI

On the domestic RHI, Ofgem will pay you generous payments quarterly for seven years. Normally the heat required to heat the property will be deemed (estimated) and payments will be based on this amount. Renewable heat generated by heat pumps will be based on an estimate of the heat demand from an EPC combined with an estimate of the heat pump's efficiency.

The tariff is currently 20.46 p/kWh renewable heat; however, this is subject to change.

Ground Source Heat Pump ApplicationsTariff
(p/kWh renewable heat)
Application Submitted between 1st April 2018 and 1st April 2019 incl.) 20.89

Commercial RHI

The commercial RHI provides a subsidy, payable for 20 years, to eligible, non-domestic renewable heat generators. This includes, for example, farms, businesses, hospitals and schools as well as district heating schemes such as where one boiler serves multiple homes. Eligible usage of the heat includes usage in an enclosed building for heating a space, heating water, or carrying out a process.

Payments for installations are calculated by multiplying the applicable tariff(s) by the amount of heat generated (using an RHI compliant heat meter) in the relevant quarterly period. There are two tariff tiers which apply to the commercial RHI. The tier 1 tariff is paid per kWh of heat produced up to 15% of full rated, annual capacity and the tier 2 tariff is paid on the remaining 85% of total heat output.

The current RHI payments for Commercial Ground Source Heat Pumps are currently:

Tariff NameEligible TechnologyEligible SizesTariffs
Water/Ground Source Heat Pumps Ground Source Heat Pumps & Water Source Heat Pumps All Capacities, Tier 1 9.09
All Capacities, Tier 2 2.71

Once you are receiving RHI payments, the rate is index linked to CPI (Consumer Price Index). The RHI scheme uses a 'degression' system designed to manage the scheme budget available for the domestic RHI. From time to time, the tariff for a technology will be reduced (for new applicants only) if the total amount being claimed in total for that technology reaches a certain level. Anyone who is already claiming the RHI will not have their tariffs reduced through degression.


Specialists in Domestic Heat Pumps

One of the UK’s leading providers of renewable energy technology, Geo Green Power has extensive experience in working with domestic heat pumps. Whether you are completely renovating a large house, building a property from scratch or looking into renewable energy solutions for flats or residential blocks, we can offer high quality ground source heat pumps.

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) have a range of benefits that can make them a perfect choice across a range of scenarios in residential properties. Offering excellent savings on fuel costs and even a potential source of income through the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, domestic pumps not only pay for themselves but can be an excellent investment opportunity for your property.

GSHPs draw heat from the ground. A large loop of pipe is buried beneath your property, and liquid is then circulated in the pipe to extract heat. There is a choice between a vertical and horizontal pipe. Vertical pipes are typically more expensive as they have to be buried deeper, but also require less space. Horizontal pipes are ideal for larger properties.

For more details on the range of GSHPs that we offer please get in contact with the team at Geo Green Power today. Call us on 0800 988 3188 or email info@geogreenpower.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

NIBE Heat Pumps

We only offer heat pumps through highly renowned manufacturers with an excellent reputation. One of the most popular brands that we offer is NIBE. This is a Swedish manufacturer that has built up years of experience in creating pumps that are ideal for residential properties. There is a full range of pumps available across a variety of sizes – we will be able to provide something ideal for your home or residential property development.

Kensa Heat Pumps

Kensa is a UK-based provider heat pumps. The company offers a complete range of pumps with options to suit you. This could include the Shoebox Heat Pump – the smallest and quietest pump system that we currently offer. This could be ideal for smaller properties looking to invest in a GSHP. However, the company can provide heat pumps for any kind of home.

Considerations when installing a domestic GSHP

It is important to consider with a GSHP is the right choice for your property. This can be a very valuable form of renewable energy – however it is not necessarily suitable for every home or residential development. Here are some things to consider:

  • The type of GSHP makes an important difference – choosing a GSHP that is the right size and type is extremely important for the potential profitability of the installation. It is a good idea to work with experienced renewable energy providers who can offer expert insight and guidance.
  • Do you have the space? – it may be the case that you are thinking of having one type of system installed but do not have the space for it. Vertical systems are generally best if you have limited space available, however, the type of bedrock beneath your property can restrict how far down you can bury your pipes.  
  • Setup can be expensive – while there are very few ongoing costs related to GSHPs, as they require very little maintenance, the initial cost can be high. However, the cost will be paid off with energy savings over time.

How much money can you save a GSHP?

Ground source heat pumps help you to save money in a variety of different ways. Firstly, they will draw heat from the ground which means that your property will have lower energy bills – this is especially true for those properties replacing electric or oil heating. However, you will also receive Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (RHI) payments which pays money for heat generated.

The exact amount you can save can vary enormously depending on the size of your property or development. Typical properties with an existing gas system could see fuel bill savings alone of around £660 per year, while those with an electric system could see savings in excess of £1,000 per year. This figure doesn’t take into account additional RHI payments you will receive.

Frequently asked questions?

Is a vertical or horizontal GSHP suitable for my property?

This largely depends on the space you have available. If your property sits on a large site, you may have enough space to bury a large loop horizontally – this is typically cheaper and faster. Vertical GSHPs are more expensive but can allow the system to be installed on properties of almost any size.

Are there government grants available?

The RHI is designed to function in the same way as a grant for property owners or developers interested in investing in GSHPs. The RHI pays cash payments to owners over seven years. These payments can contribute a large amount of the initial outlay required to pay for the system.

Are there any running costs?

There are generally low on-going running costs related to GSHPs. Very little maintenance of the system is required. We work with excellent manufacturers whose systems have an excellent track record and are built to last.


Ultimate Guide to Ground Source Heat Pump Costs

Are you interested in having a ground source heat pump installed at your property? Whether you are looking into a large scale commercial installation, or a small system for a residential property, the team at Geo Green Power have years of experience and can provide you with expert advice and assistance.

Clients are often interesting in the financial details of GSHPs so we have put together this guide to the costs involved in having a system installed.

What is the cost of a ground source heat pump?

For a standard domestic GSHP, the cost for the pump itself would start from around £8,000, while for a large-scale commercial installation, the cost of the heat pump would likely be around £25,000. However, these are figures only take into account that actual cost of the pump, rather than the full cost associated with installation. It is also key to note that these figures are only estimates, and your project may require a different type of heat pump.

What affects the cost of a GSHP?

There are a number of different factors that affect the cost of the GSHP that you have installed. Of course, the size and power of the pump is a key factor; larger properties require longer ground loops and more powerful pumps.

The amount of borehole drilling and groundwork that needs to be carried out is also an important factor. There is essentially a choice between two options: horizontal groundwork and vertical groundwork. Horizontal groundwork is generally cheaper, but also requires a larger physical space. A variety of issues affects the cost of the groundworks including:

  • Depth of borehole
  • Design and construction of borehole
  • Location of borehole
  • Geology and hydrology of the site

Full installation costs

The full cost of a ground source heat pump can vary enormously depending on the size of the system required and whether there are any additional works that need to be undertaken. For a standard residential property with a GSHP with a capacity of 11kW along with underfloor heating and radiators, the system might have an overall cost of around £25,000 (5% vat).

For a large commercial or industrial installation that requires significant groundwork and installation across a much broader area, the figure could be around £90,000 (20% vat). Once again, these figures are only estimates – if you are interested in getting a quote for your project, please contact Geo Green Power for more details.  

Running and maintenance costs

It is also important to factor running and maintenance costs into the overall price of your GSHP. We only stock heat pumps from highly reputable manufacturers with great reputations for quality and longevity. However, any GSHP system will require a level of maintenance. Typically, the maintenance costs are around £100 per year, per heat pump unit.

Potential savings

In spite of the costs associated with ground source heat pumps, it is possible to receive an excellent return on your investment in the system. GSHPs provide you with free renewable energy that can significantly reduce or even eliminate your property heating costs.

NIBE Heat Pumps

One of the most popular heat pump brands that we supply is that of Swedish manufacturer NIBE. NIBE heat pumps are renowned for their build quality and durability. The company has many years of experience producing first-class equipment ideal for both industrial and domestic properties.

The company supplies a full range of GSHPs in a variety of sizes – at Geo Green Power we can find the perfect NIBE pump for your project.

Kensa Heat Pumps

UK-based provider Kensa is another popular manufacturer of heat pumps. With a full range of options to suit projects of all sizes, the team at Kensa calls on more than 15 years of experience in ground source heat pumps.

One of the most commonly purchased products from Kensa is the Shoebox Heat Pump; the smallest and quietest system on offer. We can offer Kensa heat pumps at fantastic prices to ensure that you are getting the best value from your system.


Contact Us Today

Overall, GSHPs can be a fantastic investment if your property is suited to them. If you would like to learn more about heat pumps or any other aspect of eco-friendly power, please get in contact with the team at Geo Green Power today. Our highly experienced staff will be happy to talk you through the process and provide any advice and insight you require.

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