Ground source heat pumps use energy from the sun that is absorbed and stored in the ground to create energy. They convert and transport the heat in the ground to residences where it can be used for varying heating purposes.

These pumps offer users an alternative source of renewable energy that is highly eco-friendly. They are also highly durable and require a very low level of maintenance once they have been installed.

Can Ground Source Pumps Be Installed In My Property?

Heating expenses in a property can lead to a hefty power bill at the end of the month. Installing ground source pumps can help you reduce the electric bill at the end of the month while at the same time ensuring that you remain warm or cool depending on the season. These pumps are also highly durable and require little maintenance unlike conventional heating methods used in most properties.

If you are seeking to install these pumps, you should first understand the energy requirements of your property. This is important as it will help you understand what size and type of ground heat pump is ideal for your property. With the right pump, you are likely to see less power consumption and effective production of heat by these devices.

Ground source pumps can either be based on the open loop or closed loop system. Pumps based on the closed loop system draw heat from below the ground. The heat is then usually passed through a loop of piping which leads to a heat pump located indoors.

Types of Ground Heat Pumps

There are different types of ground heat pumps that use the closed loop system. They include:

Horizontal Ground Source Heat Pumps

These pumps are typically used in rural areas where there is a lot of land available for installation of the system. To install these pumps, horizontal trenches that are between 1 and 2 metres are usually dug and the heating system down in the trenches.

In order to understand the area of land that you need to install a horizontal system, you should consider the heating requirements of the property, the moisture and texture of the soil in the installation area, the climate of the area and the efficiency of the pump that is to be installed.

Vertical Ground Source Heat Pumps

These pumps are best suited for installation in suburban areas where space is scarce. The piping system of vertical heat pumps can go down the ground for a distance of up to 150 metres. The depth of the piping normally depends on the heating required in a property and the composition of the soil. During installation, the piping of a vertical heat pump has to be protected by insulation that is at least 6 metres deep under the ground surface.

Closed Loop Systems That Use Ponds or Lakes

As the name suggests, these types of pumps can only be installed if there is a large body of water such a lake or pond in the immediate vicinity of a property.

Are There Other Types Of Closed Loop Heat Pump Systems?

The pumps described above are the most common in the United Kingdom. There are other types of pumps but they can only be installed in areas where there is availability of regular water supply. Due to the scarcity of water, the systems described above are the most popular.

What Are The Costs Of Installing Ground Source Heat Pumps?

The cost of purchasing ground heat pumps depends on various factors. They include:

  • The area that requires heating
  • The level of energy consumption in a property
  • The level of insulation in the property where the pump is to be installed

The factors described above determine the heat pump design for a property. This in turn determines the price of the most appropriate heat pump for a property. For most homes however, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that it can cost between £13,000 and £20,000 to get a ground source heat pump installed.

What Are The Groundwork Costs For Installing Vertical Systems And Horizontal Systems?

The total groundwork expenses of installing ground source pumps are dependent on the type of system used in laying piping.

For example

  • In a 2-room house, horizontal ground work can cost £3,000 while vertical ground work can cost £6,000
  • In a 4-room house, horizontal ground work can cost £5,000 while vertical ground work can cost £13,000
  • In a 6-room house, horizontal ground work can cost £8,000 while vertical ground work can cost £20,000
  • In a house that has more than 7 rooms, horizontal ground work can cost £12,000 while vertical ground work can cost
    £30,000.

However, groundwork costs can vary for each individual case. Some of the factors that can change the cost are climate and nature of soil in an area.

How Efficient Are Ground Source Heat Pumps?

These pumps use heat in the ground which is trapped from sunlight. The sun generates a lot of heat which is stored under the ground in a stable temperature.

These pumps require very little power to function effectively. For every kilowatt of power that they consume to operate, they generate about 4 kilowatts. This shows that they are highly cost effective and can save users a lot of money in the long run. Additionally, these pumps are very eco-friendly since they have very low levels of carbon emission.

The Pros And Cons Of Installing Ground Source Heat Pumps

Pros

  • They require very low levels of maintenance once installed
  • They are among the best sources of renewable energy for heating homes and water
  • They operate quietly meaning there is less noise disturbances
  • They are environment friendly since they give low levels of carbon emissions when operating
  • They are highly durable and can last for up to 25 years

Cons

  • They can be very expensive to purchase and install
  • The soil bedrock can affect the level of energy that vertical ground source pumps can produce
  • Horizontal ground pumps require a large area for installation
  • If the wrong liquids are used to transfer heat from the ground, they can have negative impacts on the environment

An Explanation On How Ground Source Heat Pumps Work

Ground Source Heat PumpsThese pumps are made of three main parts. They are:

  • The heat exchanger found underground
  • Heat pump
  • The heat distribution system

For energy to be produced, a mixture containing water and a refrigerant or antifreeze is usually pumped underground by the heat pump. As the mixture goes underground, it is usually continually warmed by the heat under the ground. The heated mixture is then passed through a heat exchanger which absorbs the heat energy from the ground and transfers it to a refrigerant. The refrigerant usually boils at a low temperature turning the energy to gas.

In order to raise the temperature of the gas produced, it is passed through a compressor. This heats the water in the piping of the hydronic distribution system. The water in the piping is usually then distributed to radiators or used for heating floors.

The gas from the whole process usually passes into a condenser which absorbs heat from the gas. The heat can then be used in a residence either for heating purposes.

The Installation Process Of Ground Source Heat Pumps

When choosing the type of ground heat pump system to install, one should be guided by the size of the property and the building regulations that apply in an area. By considering these factors, it is usually easy to determine whether a vertical loop system or horizontal loop system is most ideal.

Installation of Vertical Loop System

The first step in installing this system is to excavate loop fields for the piping. The loop for this system is then placed in a well that has been dug below the ground. After the loop has been laid down, the heat exchanger is then installed to capture the heat being absorbed from the ground.

Installation of Horizontal Loop System

To install this system, a large size of land has to be dug first. This system does not require deep excavation. The area excavated should be just large enough to allow the loops to be placed under ground level.

Which Is More Effective? Radiators or An Underfloor Heating System?

In order to feel the maximum performance of ground heat pumps, it is best to use an underfloor heating system in your residence. An underfloor system usually ensures that heat is distributed evenly across the surface of your property. However, due to the even distribution of heat, underground systems produce lower temperatures.

In order to heat a house, radiators have to spread heat from one corner of the house to another. This means that heat distribution can fail to be even in a house. Radiators however produce more heat in a house compared to underground heating systems.

The installation of underground heating systems normally costs more compared to the installation of radiators in a property.

Are Grants Provided By The Government For The Installation Of Ground Source Heat Pumps?

There are three types of grants that users of ground source heat pumps can access from the UK government. These grants can help one save money when it comes to purchase and installation of these pumps.

The grants available in the UK include:

The Renewable Heating Incentive

Under this grant, users of ground source heat pumps get paid £19.33 for every kWh of energy produced by these pumps. However, the rate paid can change depending on several factors such as the pump technology installed, metering (happens in some cases) and the current tariff being used by the government. Payments usually happen on a quarterly basis over seven years.

Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI)

This initiative aims at compensating individuals for cost incurred during installation of ground source heat pumps for commercial enterprises such as businesses or housing developments. The payments under this initiative are quick and the installer of the pump is usually left reaping the benefits of installing this type of pump.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO)

This grant imposes legal requirements for suppliers of energy to uphold measures designed to ensure energy efficiency. The obligations covered under this grant include the lowering of carbon emissions, reduction of home heating expenses and community obligations.