We all know that the Government wants us to be greener. And one of the ways they’re encouraging us to do it is to install a ground source heat pump in our home. They’re an alternative form of central heating and hot water system for your home but they’re a lot greener.
Costing between £10,000 and £18,000 to install, you could save up to £1,550 a year on your energy bills and receive up to £2,750 a year as an incentive. Your new ground source heat pump could pay its own way in 4-7 years.
In this article, CompareCompanies looks at everything to do with ground source heat pumps, including:
- how ground source heat pumps work
- the maintenance required for a ground source heat pump
- what the advantages of air source heat pumps are,
- what the disadvantages of air source heat pumps are,
- do you need planning permission for a ground source heat pump?
- how much you may be paid by the government over the next seven years for installing a ground source heat pump,
- the best way to secure a deal on a ground source heat pump installation.
For homeowners looking to install a ground source heat pump, CompareCompanies can put you in touch with professionals in your area.
We work with dozens of supply and fitting companies across Britain and we help homeowners by connecting them directly with the people they need to speak with to get the very best advice and the most competitive quotes. All quotes are provided free of charge and there’s no obligation on you to go ahead with any of our installers. To get started, fill out the form on this page.
Ground source heat pump
When rays of the sun hit the ground, the soil absorbs that solar energy and keeps it underground for a long time – for many decades, in fact, if not longer. There are two main parts of your ground source heat pump – the ground array (either vertical or horizontal) and the heat pump (some of which may have an attached hot water cylinder that needs to be kept inside).
The ground array is a series of pipes dug underground around your home. Water and anti-freeze is distributed through these pipes and this absorbs the solar energy that’s been stored in the soil. Through a mixture of compression and expansion, this energy is then redirected so that it heats the house.
The type of ground your property sits on will make a difference and the capacity of the system (the capacity is determined by the trench length and the length of the piping) is also important. Some types of ground conditions are more conducive to holding heat than others – for example, if the pipes can be buried in clay, this holds more heat and for longer than standard soil.
Vertical ground source heat pump
If your installer recommends a vertical ground source heat pump, they will drill a number of holes up to 100m in depth into the grounds of the outside of your property. If you want to generate 8kW of electricity for your heat pump, you may need to allow your installer to drill three of these boreholes.
Vertical ground source pumps are generally better for homeowners without a great deal of land around their property.
Horizontal ground source heat pump
Horizontal ground source heat pumps normally need around half a hectare of land for a successful installation. Your fitter will lay a curved close loop of piping or straight piping into a trench around 120cm underneath your grounds. To achieve 8kW of electricity, you will need around 400 square metres of piping if the land is made of clay and around twice as much if it’s made of thinner soil.
Water-based ground source heat pump
Less common ground source heat pumps use water that it takes from either a pond or a lake. The pond or lake has to be of a certain minimum size for an installation to be successful. Expect to pay a premium for this service.
Advantages of a ground source heat pump
Big savings on energy bills possible
The latest figures released by the Energy Saving Trust on the amount that a homeowner living in a 4-bed detached property can expect to save each year on their utility bills are…
||Average energy bill saving
||Average energy bill saving
|Electric (older models)
Up to £19,250 and more in payments from the Renewable Heat Incentive program
Depending on the size of your home and your installation, you should receive between £2,335 and £2,750 a year from the Government’s Domestic Renewable Incentive project for each of the seven years after your installation. That represents up to £19,750 in payments towards your system.
Your ground source heat pump could finance itself in a few short years with these payments of £2,750 per annum plus annual energy bill savings of up to £1,550.
Warm in the winter, cool in the summer
As well as providing real warmth in the winter, most modern ground source heat pumps provide cool air too. The cool air produced is a lot cheaper and more environmentally friendly than cold air produced by a standard air conditioning system.
The hot water produced by your heat pump will be hot enough for a bath and hot enough for most washing machine settings.
Significant reductions in your carbon footprint
One of the major factors behind the introduction of the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentives is to encourage homeowners to reduce their dependence on gas and electricity from the mains to power their homes.
For a 4-bedroom semi-detached home, the Energy Saving Trust has estimated that the following carbon dioxide emission reductions will be achieved…
||Savings on carbon dioxide
|Electric (older models)
Discreet and silent
A ground source heat pump makes less noise than a standard boiler and far less noise than an air source heat pump.
Lower maintenance requirements than traditional central heating and hot water systems
Ground source air pumps are designed and built to provide a minimum of 20 years’ use. The trade body for the sector, the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, has informed homeowners that maintenance requirements and safety checks for ground source heat pumps are very low. They do advise that you may benefit from checking the electrical components, the external pipers, and the water pump before the colder weather comes.
The Energy Saving Trust recommends that you should get a professional in every three to five years for a more thorough check and for scheduled and regular maintenance.
Most ground source heat pumps come with both manufacturer and labour quality guarantees which may be extended for a small fee by your installer.
No need to store fuel
If your home gets its heat and hot water from either an oil, coal, or LPG system currently, installing a ground source heat pump means that you won’t need to either collect or have delivered fuel any more. The space that you’re currently using to store this fuel may be repurposed as well. This means more outdoor space for you and your family.
Disadvantages of a ground source heat pump
No boiling water
Although you will get water hot enough for your bath and for your washing, a hot water system powered by a ground source heat pump will not pipe boiling hot water through your taps.
Very green but not 100% green
Ground source heat pumps need around 20% of the electricity to run them to come from the mains. It doesn’t have to be the mains it comes from – it could be another renewable source like solar panels or a window turbine. If you can connect your heat pump up to a renewable source, your pump may be 100% green for a lot of the time you’re using it.
You may need larger radiators
On average, the temperature of the water produced by a ground source heat pump is 45-50OC so if you keep your current radiators, they may not provide you with the warmth you require unless your home’s insulation is comprehensive. You may need to buy larger radiators to gain the maximum warmth or invest in recently-released modern die cast aluminium radiators – these should cost between £150 and £300 each including installation. You may need to pay extra for the pipework, however.
To derive the fullest possible benefits from your system, your home (and in particular your loft) needs to be very well insulated. You may wish to ask your installer whether they think that your home, as it currently is, needs more insulation and, if it does, what his or her recommendations would be on getting your home ready for your ground source heat pump.
Although it’s possible to pay back your system in full over the course of 4-7 years through a combination of lower energy bills and the subsidies received by the government under the Domestic Renewable Heat initiative (mentioned later on in this article), ground source heat pumps are a big investment in your home which you have to pay for first before receiving the subsidies.
Planning permission for a ground source heat pump
In all four countries of the UK, ground source heat pumps are considered as “permitted developments” meaning that, in most cases, planning permission is not required.
You will however need planning permission if:
- part of the system will lie outside the area of land attached to your home (forming one enclosure)
- there is already a ground source heat pump on site
- the area in which the ground source heat pump is installed does not exceed half a hectare
- you remove the ground source heat pump when it is no longer in use or it has reached the end of its serviceable life.
We would recommend to owners of listed buildings and of buildings within a conservation area to check with their local planning department prior to committing to any spending.
Financial incentives for a ground source heat pump
As long as you choose a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved supplier and they submit the paperwork once they’ve completed your installation, you’ll be eligible to receive payments every quarter under the Domestic Renewable Heat Initiative scheme. The scheme is open to homeowners in England, Scotland, and Wales but it is no longer available to homeowners in Northern Ireland.
For the owner of a 4-bedroomed detached house in England, Wales, or Scotland, you should receive payments of up to £2,750 a year for your ground source heat pump installation. At the time of writing, the current payment under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme is 20.46p for every kWh of renewable heat produced by your heat pump.
Finding the right ground source heat pump deal for you
Costing between £10,000 and £18,000, a ground source heat pump is an expensive home improvement and it’s important that you choose the right system for your property at the right price.
CompareCompanies works with dozens of approved and accredited installers across the UK covering every area of the country. We connect homeowners like you with our partner installers who are happy to visit you at your home and give you the benefit of their vast experience and knowledge.
Not only that but every installer who comes around to see you will know that you’re receiving quotes from their competitors. When there’s more than one company bidding for work, prices go down but the quality remains high.
All of our installers are either MCS accredited or they have been trading for over a year and they’re now ready to apply for MCS or Category One registration.
You don’t have to accept any of the quotes supplied by our partner installers – every quote comes with no obligation. And our service is also completely free of charge to you too.
To get started, fill out the form on this page.