Frequently Asked Questions

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Modern heat pumps can be extremely efficient. For every kilowatt of power used to run the heat pump, three to five kilowatts of heating and cooling can be produced in one's home. The effectiveness of a GSHP is completely dependent upon a number of factors, including:
  • The quality of the design and installation
  • The level of insulation
  • The heating distribution system.
The efficiency can be improved by using a GSHP with additional renewable energy technologies such as Solar PV.

Ground source heat pumps are commonplace in many countries, including Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, USA and Canada. The principle of ground source heat pumps was first discussed but William Thomson (Lord Kelvin) during the 1850s. Since then, they have been ceaselessly evolved and improved. For the past 50+ years they have demonstrated to be a cost-effective and safe option for those looking to replace their fossil fuel heating system.

For most houses, the indoor unit of a heat pump is about the size of a fridge. The larger your heating needs, the larger the indoor unit will need to be. Heat pumps for commercial buildings are typically larger, but not much. The overall size doesn't typically increase as much as they need for larger collectors outdoors.

Yes. Most domestic systems are able to heat domestic hot water.

Yes. Often the distribution system will need to be modified to encompass cooling as standard radiators do not work. Cooling is a heat sink and does not radiate. Therefor you need fancoils to blow out the cold air. Additionally with underfloor heating you need to be careful about condensation. Blown air is the most efficient.

Yes. In fact, it's almost a requirement. Luckily, most new houses in the UK are now forced to meet new building regulations and should be able to benefit from a ground source heat pump. A well-insulated building will ensure that the size of the heat pump won't need to be too large. It will also mean you require fewer ground loops, reducing the overall cost of the installation. A GSHP can work in a poorly insulated building too, but not as well.

Yes. Some heat pumps are designed to operate on a standard UK single-phase supply. However, a three-phase supply is a preferable option and will be essential for larger installations.

Yes. Modern warm temperature underfloor heating pairs well with ground source heat pump systems. When a heat pump delivers to a large warm water circuit (such as underfloor heating) rather than a relatively small radiator system, compared to underfloor heating, it transfers heat at a greater coefficient of performance.

Yes, however because a heat pump is always on, a modern radiator or fan coil isn’t as efficient. Believe it or not, one of the most efficient radiators you can use are older, iron cast radiators.

Yes. This normally means the pump will be nearer to the pipe connections to your ground loops, which can reduce the cost of installation. However it will mean that you must use heavily insulated piping between the house and out-building.

Yes, this will not be a problem for the heat pump. The question is typically one for the digger / excavator.

Yes, in fact, wet land is actually better at conducting heat. as long as a trench can be dug, it is ideal.

Yes. In the United Kingdom, there is currently a major push toward alternative technologies that are both sustainable and environmentally friendly. The heating of buildings is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions. When you use renewable energy to heat your home, you contribute to reduce carbon emissions, especially when compared to using fossil fuels like oil. Most electricity providers now offer 'green' electricity generated from renewable energy sources, and if you use this to power your heat pump, your home will be completely heated with zero carbon emissions.

No. There are no flammable materials found in a typical ground source heat pump.

No, a ground source heat pump actually makes less noise than a gas boiler.

As with any expensive equipment; we would recommend that it is covered by an annual maintenance agreement. However, routine maintenance requirements are very low. A ground source heat pump can be expected to last over 20 years – longer than a gas boiler. Most ground source systems are automated, this mean they come with relatively low maintenance, low running costs, and low noise. That being said, they will need maintenance from time to time. The pipe in the ground can last up to 100 years!

A ground source heat pump can provide great efficiency and low operating costs in a modern, well-insulated home. Oil-fired boilers are significantly more expensive to operate, and electric heating is at least three times as costly. At current gas rates, modern condensing gas boilers are more expensive to operate, and gas costs are expected to climb. In order to maintain efficiency and ensure safety, all fossil fuel boilers must be serviced on a regular basis.

A ground source heat pump system has higher upfront expenses than a traditional oil or gas-fired boiler. Lower operating costs, maintenance, and servicing requirements offset the initial capital investment. There's also the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the majority of your heating and cooling energy comes from your ground, is under your control, and won't go up in price. Avoid assessing an installation solely on the basis of its cost. If you want to save money over the life of the installation, it's more necessary to have a well-designed system. Remember, the free energy is in your ground, therefore it’s very important not to undersize the ground loops in an attempt to save cost.
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Yes, see here.