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Everything you need to know about ground source heat pumps

kensa-heat-pump-installSustainability is coming to the forefront of building design as pressure is put on housebuilders to deliver large quantities of home whilst keeping their energy efficiency and environmental impact to a minimum. More often homeowners are insulating their houses further and they’re choosing to switch to sustainable alternatives to gas and electric heating.

Air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps are being chosen to provide sustainable heat for carbon-conscious homes. Read our guide to air source heat pumps here or read on for everything you need to know about ground source heat pumps.

How do ground source heat pumps work?

A ‘ground loop’ is a pipe that’s filled with a mixture of water and anti-freeze that’s buried in the garden. It circulates this water and anti-freeze mixture in order to absorb heat from the ground which is then warmed up further using a heat exchange and heat pump. The heat pump uses a small amount of electricity to increase the temperature of the water for use around the home.

This hot water can be used to heat radiators, water and even underfloor heating. How much hot water you need impacts how big the ground loop will need to be, which is also influenced by how much space is available! Instead of a ground loop it’s possible to install a vertical borehole downwards, which is ideal for smaller gardens.

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Ground source heat pumps advantages

Ground source heat pumps have many advantages, not just relating to their sustainability.

  • co2Ground source heat pumps are eco-friendly since the ground is a renewable heat source
  • When replacing off-mains gas, these pumps pay for themselves quickly
  • Lower temperatures over longer periods work well for highly insulated homes
  • Cheaper to run than electric heating
  • More efficient than air source heat pumps
  • The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) from the government offers a range of incentives for using sustainable energy

Ground source heat pumps disadvantages

A couple of disadvantages to ground source heat pumps include that your property may not be suitable.

  • pound signGround source heat pumps should be installed in a well-insulated property for maximum efficiency
  • Hard rock and certain types of soil won’t allow installation of a ground source heat pump
  • A small garden won’t allow for a ground loop so a vertical borehole may be required
  • Your property needs to be accessible by a mini-digger
  • Installation can be costly if not done in combination with other works or new builds

How much do ground source heat pumps costs?

Ground source heat pumps have a working life of at least 20 years. Many last longer than this and will continue to operate for years after if their maintenance is kept up. This maintenance involves yearly checks by the homeowner and checks by a professional every couple of years. The installer should tell you how to inspect your ground source heat pump properly.

Based on a 4-bed detached home a ground source heat pump for this size would cost around £13,000 to install. For smaller properties that are well-insulated and terraced though for example, this cost could nearly half. It’s worth getting a specialist in to quote for you before investigating this route further as the soil in your garden may be prohibitive even if the cost isn’t.

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For further information on how ground source heat pumps could be good for you and your well-insulated home, you can find out more by asking our team. 

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