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Ground Source Heat Pumps

Upgrade your home heating system with ground source heat pumps for efficient and sustainable warmth. Ground source heat pumps harness the natural heat stored in the ground to provide reliable and eco-friendly heating throughout the year.

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Ground Source Heat Pumps

How do they work?

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) is a heating system that extracts heat from the ground and uses it to provide heating for a property. It works by utilizing the relatively stable temperature of the ground to transfer heat energy to the home. Here's how a GSHP works for a UK homeowner looking to install a new heating system:

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1. Ground Loop Installation: To install a GSHP, a ground loop system is installed in the ground adjacent to the property. This can be done through horizontal trenches or vertical boreholes, depending on the available space and geological conditions. The ground loop consists of a series of pipes that circulate a fluid, typically a mixture of water and anti-freeze.

2. Heat Absorption: The fluid in the ground loop pipes absorbs heat energy from the ground. The ground itself acts as a heat source, as it maintains a relatively constant temperature throughout the year, usually between 8 to 12 degrees Celsius in the UK. The fluid collects the heat from the ground and becomes warmer as it circulates through the ground loop system.

3. Heat Exchange: The warm fluid from the ground loop is pumped into the heat pump unit inside the property. The heat pump contains a refrigeration cycle similar to that of an air conditioning unit but in reverse. The warm fluid passes through a heat exchanger, transferring its heat energy to a refrigerant within the heat pump.

4. Refrigeration Cycle: The refrigerant in the heat pump absorbs the heat from the fluid and evaporates into a gas. The gas is then compressed by a compressor, which raises its temperature further.

5. Heat Distribution: The hot refrigerant gas passes through a second heat exchanger, known as the condenser. In the condenser, the heat is transferred to a water-based central heating system or directly to the home's underfloor heating or radiators.

6. Expansion Valve: After releasing its heat, the refrigerant returns to a liquid state and passes through an expansion valve, which reduces its pressure. This prepares the refrigerant to repeat the cycle of heat absorption from the ground.

 

7. Indoor Distribution: The heated water or air is distributed throughout the home, providing warmth and comfort. It can be circulated through radiators, underfloor heating systems, or air handling units, depending on the specific heating system setup.

GSHPs offer several benefits for UK homeowners, including energy efficiency, cost savings, reduced carbon emissions, and a reliable heating solution. However, installing a GSHP requires careful consideration of factors such as available land or space, soil conditions, and system design.

Benefits of installing a ground source heat pump?

Energy efficiency

GSHPs are highly energy-efficient heating systems. They harness the consistent temperature of the ground to provide heating, requiring less electricity or fuel compared to traditional heating systems. This results in lower energy consumption and reduced heating costs, helping homeowners save money in the long run.

Reduce energy bills

By utilising the heat energy stored in the ground, GSHPs can significantly reduce heating bills. Although the upfront installation cost may be higher than conventional heating systems, the lower running costs and potential government incentives, such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), can offset the initial investment and lead to substantial savings over the system's lifespan.

Environmental friendliness

GSHPs are environmentally friendly heating solutions. They use renewable energy from the ground, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and lowering carbon emissions. By choosing a GSHP, homeowners contribute to the UK's sustainability goals and help combat climate change.

Space saving

GSHPs require less indoor space compared to traditional heating systems like boilers or furnaces. The main components, such as the heat pump unit, can be compactly installed, freeing up valuable space in the home.

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  • Can air source heat pumps be used in older properties or in areas with limited space?
    Yes, air source heat pumps can be installed in older properties and in areas with limited space. They are generally more compact than other heating systems and can be installed externally, requiring less space indoors. ASHPs can provide efficient heating even in older properties, but it's essential to ensure proper insulation and appropriate radiator or underfloor heating system compatibility to maximise performance.
  • Do air source heat pumps work in cold climates like the UK?
    Yes, air source heat pumps are designed to operate effectively in colder climates like the UK. While their efficiency may slightly decrease in extremely low temperatures, modern ASHPs are specifically engineered to work efficiently in a range of weather conditions. They can extract heat from the outdoor air, even when temperatures drop below freezing, ensuring reliable and effective heating throughout the year.
  • Can I use a heat pump for 24 hours per day?
    A heat pump can provide heating and hot water anytime, day or night, as you would with a normal boiler.
  • Are heat pumps noisy?
    No, modern heat pump systems are designed with noise reduction features to minimise any potential disturbance to homeowners and neighbours.
  • Are ground source heat pumps suitable for all types of homes?
    Ground source heat pumps can be suitable for a wide range of property types, including new builds, existing homes, and even commercial buildings. However, certain factors such as available outdoor space for ground loop installation and property insulation should be considered.
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  • How long does a ground source heat pump system last?
    A well-maintained ground source heat pump system can last for several decades, with a typical lifespan of 20 to 25 years for the heat pump itself. The ground loops generally have a lifespan of over 50 years. Regular maintenance, such as checking fluid levels and ensuring the system operates efficiently, can help maximize the lifespan of the system.
  • Can a ground source heat pump provide both heating and cooling?
    Yes, ground source heat pumps can provide both heating and cooling. They can be configured to extract heat from the ground for space heating during the colder months and reverse the process to provide cooling during the warmer months. This makes them a versatile and all-season solution for maintaining comfortable indoor temperatures.
  • Do I need planning permission to install a ground source heat pump?
    In most cases, installing a ground source heat pump in the UK does not require planning permission. However, certain exceptions apply, such as if your property is a listed building or located in a conservation area. It's recommended to check with your local planning authority.
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    Yes, underfloor heating is known for its energy efficiency. It operates at lower water temperatures than traditional radiator systems, which can result in energy savings. When combined with renewable energy sources such as air source heat pumps or ground source heat pumps, underfloor heating becomes even more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
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