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How Does A Ground Source Heat Pump Work?

Geo Green Power specialises in all forms of renewable energy technology including ground source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are becoming one of the most popular forms of clean energy in the UK – but how exactly do they work?

GSHPs extract energy from the ground in the form of heat. To do this they utilise large rings of pipe that are buried beneath a property – the heat is claimed from the ground and can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor heating, warm air heating systems and more.

The loop of pipe is buried in the ground – either horizontally or vertically – and then a pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around the ground loop. The heat that is extracted from the ground into the fluid then passes through the pump. And as the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature all year round, GSHPs are not affected by the seasons in the same way that solar panels and wind turbines are.

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.

Contact us

Would you like to learn more about the range of ground source heat pumps that we can offer? Please get in contact with the team at Geo Green Power today by calling 0800 988 3188 or emailing info@geogreenpower.com and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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