Use The Heat in the Ground to Warm Your Home

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Heat your home with energy from the ground. Ground source heat pumps use pipes which are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home. A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe ,called a ground loop, which is buried in your garden. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so the heat pump can be used throughout the year, even in the middle of winter. The length of the ground loop depends on the size of your home and the amount of heat you need. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead. The benefits of ground source heat pumps Ground source heat pumps (also known as GSHPs):

  • could lower your fuel bills, especially if you replace conventional electric heating
  • could provide you with an income through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • could lower your home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing
  • don’t need fuel deliveries
  • can heat your home and provide hot water
  • need little maintenance – they’re called ‘fit and forget’ technology.

Unlike gas and oil boilers, heat pumps deliver heat at lower temperatures over much longer periods. During the winter they may need to be on constantly to heat your home efficiently. You will also notice that radiators won’t feel as hot to the touch as they might do when you are using a gas or oil boiler. Air source heat pumps are usually easier to install than ground source as they don’t need any trenches or drilling, but they are often less efficiency than GSHPs. Water source heat pumps can be used to provide heating in homes near to rivers, streams and lakes. How do ground source heat pumps work? Heat from the ground is absorbed at low temperatures into a fluid inside a loop of pipe (a ground loop) buried underground. The fluid then passes through a compressor that raises it to a higher temperature, which can then heat water for the heating and hot water circuits of the house. The cooled ground-loop fluid passes back into the ground where it absorbs further energy from the ground in a continuous process as long as heating is required. Normally the loop is laid flat or coiled in trenches about two metres deep, but if there is not enough space in your garden you can install a vertical loop down into the ground to a depth of up to 100 metres for a typical domestic home. Is a ground source heat pump suitable for me? Is your garden suitable for a ground loop? It doesn’t have to be particularly big, but the ground needs to be suitable for digging a trench. Is your home well insulated? Since ground source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it’s essential that your home is insulated and draught-proofed well for the heating system to be effective. What fuel will you be replacing? The system will pay for itself much more quickly if it’s replacing an electricity or coal heating system. Heat pumps may not be the best option for homes using mains gas. What type of heating system will you use? Ground source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required. Is the system intended for a new development? Combining the installation with other building work can reduce the cost of installing the system. You may also want to consider air source heat pumps, which extract heat from the outside air. Costs Installing a typical system costs around £9,000 to £17,000. Running costs will depend on a number of factors – including the size of your home and how well insulated it is. Savings How much you can save will depend on what system you use now, as well as what you’re replacing it with. Your savings will be affected by:

  • Your heat distribution system If you have the opportunity, underfloor heating can be more efficient than radiators because the water doesn’t need to be so hot. If underfloor heating isn’t possible, use the largest radiators you can.
  • Your fuel costs You will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because they are powered by electricity, but you will save on the fuel you are replacing. If the fuel you are replacing is expensive you are more likely to make a saving.
  • Water Heating If the heat pump is providing hot water then this could limit the overall efficiency. You might want to consider solar water heating to provide hot water in the summer and help keep your heat pump efficiency up.
  • Earnings You may be able to receive payments for the heat you generate using a heat pump through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This scheme should be launched in October 2012.

From August 2011, you may be able to get help with the installation costs of a ground source heat pump through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme. Please Contact Us for a free quotation.

Blackpool, Fylde and Lancashire

Based in Fleetwood, Cre8building offer ground source heat pumps and other green energy building solutions throughout the Fylde Coast, including Blackpool, Fleetwood, Thornton-Cleveleys, Poulton-le-Fylde, Bispham, Lytham St Annes, Kirkham and Knott-End.

For larger projects, we cover the wider Lancashire area, including: Garstang, Preston, Blackburn, Accrington, Burnley, Leyland, Chorley, Southport and Morecambe.