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 at 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 – for domestic properties 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?
Working across the UK and based in Nottingham, we work with you to ensure heat pumps would be suitable for the 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.
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.
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 heat pumps.Get a Quote
GSHP Install in Leeds
In 2019 Rob Tuley, like many others, began to seriously consider his environmental impact and investigated a renewable heating solution that would make him greener. Weighing up his options, Rob found that installing a ground source heat pump at his house in Leeds would make the biggest difference.
Frequently asked questions?
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is important to consider whether 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.
GSHPs 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.
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.
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 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.
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 financially beneficial 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 us.
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.
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.
It is important that you have your GSHP 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.
A well-designed ground source heat pump combined with a solar PV system will provide you with low running costs over the course of its lifetime, but you still need to maintain the system regularly to keep it working optimally. Compared to fossil fuel alternatives, ground source heat pumps are far cheaper to run and maintain, with our servicing and maintenance call-out fees starting from just £249+VAT.
Ground source heat pumps can last up to 25 years when properly maintained, and we recommend annual servicing to ensure it’s working as it should. During our checks, we’ll assess the control equipment, pipework, compressor, water pump and anti-freeze mixtures. The heat pump ground collectors should also be filled and flushed approximately every 8 years.
Heat is harvested from the ground in one of two ways – ground loops or a borehole. Each has its pros and cons to bear in mind, so which should you choose for your property?
Ground loops are the most popular choice for ground source heat pump installations, and they work via a collector pipe which is buried one metre below the ground to draw heat from the soil through to the heat pump. The heat that’s extracted is then continually replenished from the sun. Ground loops require plenty of unused land, typically at least three times the total square footage of your property, including both ground and upper floors.
Ground loops are cheaper to install than boreholes, and they don’t require specialist contractors to install them. The ground loop trench can also be dug out at the same time as laying the foundations for a new build, which makes them a popular option for new homes. However, they do require more land and you can’t develop the land area once the ground loops have been installed.
Boreholes are vertical holes drilled between 40m and 120m deep. The ground collector is then dropped into the hole to extract the heat energy, before being filled with grout to encourage more thermal conductivity. Boreholes require specialist contractors to be installed and the number of boreholes needed will depend on the property. Boreholes don’t require as much space as ground loops, but they cost almost double due to the specialist contractors, equipment and logistics involved in the project.
When choosing between ground loops or boreholes, you’ll need to consider the cost of the installation and the amount of available land you have to work with. In some cases, an air source heat pump may be a cheaper option and can work well on smaller plots. If you’re in doubt, speak to a member of our team who can advise you on the best course of action.
A ground source heat pump unit is installed inside your property which means that you need to have space for a plant room to house the system. This needs to be taken into account early on in the design of the system, as it requires more space than the small cupboards that most properties use to house a boiler. An average ground source heat pump plant room measures around 2.1m x 1m and this would house the pump, cylinder, pipework and controller.
The cost of a heat pump installation is dependent on several factors, including:
- The size of the property
- How insulated the property is
- Whether you’re choosing ground loops or boreholes
- The size of the heat pump
- The level of support you can get from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme*
The installation process is centred on the heat loss of the property, so a property with ample insulation will require a smaller heat pump than an older property with poor insulation, as the latter will need more energy to heat the property sufficiently.
* The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is a government grant scheme designed to help the UK meet its 2050 net zero emissions target. It is available to homeowners in England and Wales and applications open in May 2022. The scheme can provide homeowners with thousands of pounds towards upgrading to a low carbon heating alternative, such as heat pumps, in place of fossil fuel boilers.
Who we work with
Stiebel Eltron Heat Pumps
We only install heat pumps built by highly renowned manufacturers with an excellent reputation. STIEBEL ELTRON are an internationally operating Group and among the global market and technology leaders in the fields of building services and renewable energies.
The rating system for (heating) heat pumps has nine efficiency categories. A++ is the highest energy efficiency class and STIEBEL ELTRON’s (heating) heat pumps are only found in this category. With a wide range of models to choose from there will almost certainly be a suitable option for your property.
NIBE Heat Pumps
One of the leading and 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.
Ultimate Guide to Ground Source Heat Pump Costs
Are you interested in having a GSHPs 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.
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
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.
The full cost of a GSHP 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.
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.
In spite of the costs associated with GSHPs, 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.
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.
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, based in Nottingham and working across the UK will be happy to talk you through the process and provide any advice and insight you require.