Even though air source heat pumps get most of the press in the renewable energy industry, their ground source counterparts actually offer a number of advantages.

Here’s everything you need to know about ground source heat pumps.

What is a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)?

Ground heat is a fantastic source of energy for homes. The ground may be used as a significant renewable energy source.

A Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) is one of the finest ways to extract and use this crucial energy, which can be utilized to run hot water systems and warm air heating systems.

Heat pumps appear to be a straightforward answer to all of your heating issues, but there are a few things to bear in mind before you jump in.

Related: The Top 15 Problems With Ground Source Heat Pumps

How do Ground Source Heat Pumps Work?

A ground source heat pump uses water to absorb heat from the earth. The fluid is compressed and heated using electricity, after which it is lowered back to a lower temperature.

Heat may be delivered to radiators or underfloor heating; the rest is stored in a hot water cylinder. Showers, baths, and faucets can all be used with this hot water.

Even through the winter months, the heat in the ground remains fairly constant, which is what makes it such an efficient source of energy.

The ground heat is absorbed into the surrounding material and carried to a heat exchanger, from which it is passed on to your home’s heating sources, such as radiators.

Where the magic comes in is via the compressor and refrigerant gas. This increases the temperature of the heat exchanger and provides your home with a lovely warm feeling, all thanks to the earth’s natural heat!

Ground source heat pumps only work if the size of your garden or land is large enough.

A minimum of 300 meters squared is required, and this number increases depending on the size of your home.

The type of property you have will also affect the installation process. If you live in a terraced house or flat, for example, it may not be possible to install a ground source heat pump.

If space is limited, then a vertical system may be the answer. This uses a series of pipes that are drilled vertically into the ground, rather than a horizontal system.

Related: Do Heat Pumps Use A Lot Of Electricity? (COST BREAKDOWN)

The Benefits of Ground Source Heat Pumps

There are several benefits that ground source heat pumps offer over other types of renewable energy, such as solar panels.

Related: How Many Solar Panels Are Needed To Run An Air Conditioner Or Heat Pump?

More efficient

One of the main benefits is that they are much more efficient than air-source heat pumps.

Ground source heat pumps have a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of between two and four.

This means that, for every unit of electricity used, you get two to four units of heat in return. Air source heat pumps have a COP of around three.

Used all year round

Another benefit is that ground source heat pumps can be used all year round, whereas solar panels only work when the sun is shining. This means that you can use your ground source heat pump to provide heating in the winter and hot water all year round.

Lower carbon emissions

Ground source heat pumps also have lower carbon emissions than other types of renewable energy. This is because they use less electricity to run, and the electricity that they do use is usually from renewable sources.

Lower your fuel bills

If you currently utilize heating oil, LPG, or electricity to heat your home, a ground source heat pump will save you a considerable amount of money every year. The savings will be lesser if you use natural gas on the gas grid since it is relatively inexpensive in the United Kingdom.

They require very little maintenance

Once installed, ground source heat pumps require very little maintenance. A well-engineered, high-quality air or ground source heat pump system will require modest upkeep and may last for at least 20-30 years. An annual check is required, which may be carried out by the system’s owner or a qualified installer or engineer.

Deciding if a Ground Source Heat Pump is for you

Do you have somewhere suitable to put it?

As I mentioned earlier, you will need a minimum of 300 meters squared of land to install a ground source heat pump. This number will increase depending on the size of your home. If you live in a terraced house or flat, it may not be possible to install a ground source heat pump.

Do you have access?

The installation process for a ground source heat pump can be disruptive as it involves digging trenches or drilling holes. You will need to have access for diggers, and the work may take up to four weeks to complete.

How will you heat the rooms in your home?

Are you going to use existing radiators or go for underfloor heating? Underfloor heating works really well with heat pumps as it evenly distributes the heat around the room.

They are also more efficient than radiated heat, as they don’t rely on hot air rising to the ceiling.

Do you have enough money?

Installing a ground source heat pump is not cheap. You will need to factor in the cost of the installation, as well as the cost of ongoing maintenance. However, the savings you make on your fuel bills will quickly offset the initial investment.

Are you prepared to switch energy supplier?

In order to get the most out of your ground source heat pump, you may need to switch energy supplier. This is because some suppliers offer discounts for customers who generate their own renewable energy.

Ground Source Heat Pump Installation

A ground source heat pump takes advantage of the heat from both water and the earth, and there are a number of different types.

The most common type is a closed-loop system that utilizes a contained water and antifreeze combination.

An open-loop system makes use of groundwater from the neighborhood, but it must meet certain criteria such as being low in chlorine.

  • Open or Closed Loop Ground Source Heat Pump: The most popular choice and is normally buried flat around 2m.
  • Single Borehole Open or Closed Loop GSHP: A 100-meter vertical deep installation can be drilled down into the earth.
  • Single Well Open or Closed Loop WSHP: If you have an underwater source, such as a well, the loop can be linked to it.
  • Lake or Pond Source Open or Closed Loop WSHP: If you have a lake or a large pond in your area, it works similarly to a Ground Source Heat Pump but in water.

Underfloor heating ground source heat pump

Installing underfloor heating is recommended as it is a very efficient way to heat your home. The heat from the ground source heat pump will be evenly distributed around the room, and you won’t have to worry about hot air rising to the ceiling.

There are two types of underfloor heating: wet and dry. Wet systems circulate warm water through pipes that are laid beneath the floor, whereas dry systems use electric cables to generate heat.

The installation process for a ground source heat pump can be disruptive as it involves digging trenches or drilling holes. You will need to have access to diggers, and the work may take up to four weeks to complete.

Once the system is installed, you’ll need to have it serviced every year by a qualified engineer. This is to ensure that it is working properly and to prevent any problems from developing.

Related: Is Your Heat Pump Short Cycling? Here’s How You Fix It!

Cost and ROI of a Ground Source Heat Pump

Let’s be totally honest. This isn’t the cheapest option as a GSHP is still quite expensive to install.

On average, an installation will cost around £10-15,000. You’ll still need to pay for electricity to run the pump, and savings will be determined by a variety of variables, including the present fuel and the heating system you’re replacing.

You may be eligible for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which offers a grant:

  • £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump
  • £5,000 off the cost and installation of a biomass boiler
  • £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump

This replaces the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) which ended on 31st March 2022.

You can find out more about heat pump costs and savings here.

Will a heat pump save me money on my energy bill?

The running costs for heat pumps are lower than those of systems based on combustion. The more energy-efficient the systems are, the higher the long-term savings on utility bills.

About the Author

Passionate about helping households transition to sustainable energy with helpful information and resources.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}