Ground Source Heat Pump: Key Information | Smart Renewable Heat

Ground Source Heat Pump

Renewable heat, directly from the ground.

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) extracts heat directly from the ground. The sun heats the earth every day, meaning the rock or soil beneath the surface can offer a natural source of consistent low-grade heat.

Property owners can install a vertical or horizontal ground source system. The former uses deep drilled boreholes, and the latter uses shallower trenches. The system circulates a solution through pipes or loops, which absorbs the underground heat and filters it through a heat exchanger into the pump.

A ground source heat pump is a super-efficient heating system, delivering year-round heat to residential and commercial properties.

Heat Pumps Service Report

Meet building regulations

Comply with UK government guidelines and local authority building regulations, reduce carbon emissions, and improve your SAP calculations. Go green, and get efficient.

financial benefits heat pumps

Benefit financially

Add real value to your home, reduce monthly utility bills, and claim Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments. A GSHP makes sense for your pocket and the environment.

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Enjoy the simplicity

GSHPs are low maintenance, and straightforward to install if you have the space. No planning permission is required for standard new-builds or renovations in the UK.

“Loving the GSHP you installed for us and it’s proving to be very economical. Very pleased. We are now ready to apply for our RHI payments and hope you can point us in the right direction.”

Chris, Sheffield

Video: The benefits of a ground source heat pump

Ground Source Heat Pump FAQs

The sun’s rays heat the surface of the earth, and this heat energy is stored in the soil, rock, water and air, keeping the annual average temperature in the UK at approximately 10C.

Ground Source Heat Pumps work by harvesting some of this stored solar energy from the soil. A cold heat transfer liquid is pumped out of the heat pump through a long pipe network buried in the soil at a depth of 1m.

As the liquid passes through the pipes it picks up heat energy from the soil and returns to the heat pump several degrees warmer. This heat energy is then transferred into a refrigerant circuit in the heat pump, using a heat exchanger. The refrigerant is compressed, which makes it very hot, and the heat is delivered into your heating and hot water system using another heat exchanger.

Watch our video and learn from the experts about how heat pumps work.

Most domestic ground source heat pumps cost between £12,500 and £18,500. Precise details can be found in our blog post about how much ground source heat pumps cost to install. In a nutshell, the bigger the system, the higher the cost. Horizontal ground source heat pumps are cheaper than vertical setups, and financial assistance is available to offset initial costs.

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a Government scheme that pays heat pump owners for the carbon savings they make by installing a heat pump (as these contribute to the Government’s carbon reduction targets). The scheme pays for 7 years after the has been installed.

While this doesn’t help with the initial investment cost in a heat pump, there are other schemes available: in Scotland, the Home Energy Scotland Loan provides interest-free loans of up to £10,000. South of the border in England and Wales, the Assignment of Rights (AoR) allows homeowners to nominate an investor to cover the installation cost. In return, RHI payments are redirected to that investor as repayment.

Properly installed and properly maintained ground source heat pumps always reduce fuel bills. Furthermore, they are proven to increase the value of your property when it comes its sale. In tandem with government incentives, ground source heat pumps are financially beneficial.

For a detailed explanation, let us guide you to our article about how much space you need for a ground source heat pump. In brief, horizontal ground source systems typically require between 2 and 3 times the heated floor area of the house.

A vertical ground source heat pump won’t need as much space; boreholes are only 10 to 15 cm wide, but you will likely need multiple boreholes spaced around 8 metres apart.

The running costs of a ground source heat pump are far lower than any traditional fossil fuel heating. However, the running costs can differ based on your unique property and its energy efficiency. It also differs based on the size and type of system you use. We outline the running costs of a ground source heat pump in this article.

Yes, but they must be appropriately sized to work with heat pumps, which operate at much lower temperatures than traditional boilers. If ‘standard’ sized radiators are used, a heat pump would have to run at its maximum output temperature, which is inefficient, and it may still not keep the room up to temperature.

Where larger radiators are installed that are specifically designed to work with the heat pump, the system can be run at around half the temperature of a boiler whilst keeping the rooms properly heated. And running costs will be significantly lower than a boiler.

Some homeowners have underfloor heating and “oversized” radiators on upper floors. For more information, read our article and watch our video on using radiators with heat pumps.

No, the noise of a ground source heat pump is less than a traditional fossil fuel boiler or an air source heat pump. A ground source heat pump is perhaps the quietest heating option available. As our experts outlined in this useful video, when standing a metre away from the system in the plant room, a GSHP may reach 42 decibels. This is equivalent to a fridge. And of course, there is no whirring outdoor fan because the heat is sourced beneath the earth, not from the air.

Heat pump efficiency is measured using the Seasonal Coefficient of Performance (SCoP), also known as the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF). This describes the amount of heat produced for every unit of electricity consumed.

Typically, ground source heat pumps produce between three and five units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed, representing a ScoP of 3 – 5 (or between 300% and 500% efficiency). By comparison, a traditional boiler might have an efficiency of between 60% and 90%.

Yes, provided the heat distribution system (underfloor heating and/or radiators) is upgraded to work properly with the heat pump (see above).

While a well-insulated home is not essential for a heat pump installation, insulation is always money well spent as it will reduce the long-term operating costs and carbon footprint of the building. And in order to qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, there are minimum insulation standards for loft voids and cavity walls.

For more details about this, read the official Ofgem guide.

We offer an annual service package and a fault call and repair service, which ensures that your ground source heat pump is kept in prime condition throughout its lifetime. We recommend that you service your system annually to ensure good working order.

If properly installed and maintained, a ground source heat pump should have a working lifespan of around 20-25 years, while ground loops should last for up to 50 years.

How are vertical GSHPs installed? Watch our video, made in partnership with Vaillant.

Considering a Ground Source Heat Pump? Our free guides will help.

Smart Renewable Heat

We are an award-winning heat pump installation company, serving clients all over Britain. Our team specialises in ground source heat pumps for residential and commercial buildings, and we take care of the whole project from start-to-finish. Our partners include homeowners, self-builders, architects, consulting engineers, landowners, and agents.

Other technologies we work with include air source heat pumps and hybrid heat pumps. The most suitable system for each client depends on a multitude of factors, which we outline in detail according to your situation. Smart Renewable Heat is your expert renewable heating partner, for large and small projects. With over 20 years in business and over 1,000 heat pump installations under our belt, we are the UK’s leading heat pump installer.

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