Ground source heat pumps - Prices and installation requirements

Ground source heat pumps - ground preparationGround source heat pumps are becoming very popular due to the rising costs of conventional fossil fuels.

Some more good news is that they will be eligible for financial incentives under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) from spring 2014.

What are ground source heat pumps

Ground source heat pumps are basically pipes buried in the ground which absorb natural geothermal energy which can then be used to heat radiators and underfloor and warm air heating.

They work by circulating a mixture of antifreeze and water around a loop of pipe called a ‘ground loop’. Heat passes into this mixture from the ground and is then passed through a heat exchanger into the pump itself. Because the ground stays at a fairly stable temperature ground source heat pumps can be used throughout the year.

How much does it cost to install this renewable technology

Expect to pay between £9,000 and £17,000 for a ground source heat pump. Running costs will depend on how big your home is, in addition to how well insulated it is.

Benefits of installing a ground source heat pump

There are various benefits to be made from this type of renewable energy, depending on a variety of factors:

  • Your heat distribution system – compared to radiators underfloor heating is more efficient because the water doesn’t need to be so hot. Where underfloor heating isn’t an option go for the largest radiators possible.
  • Your fuel costs – there will still be fuel bills to pay because heat pumps are powered by electricity. But you’ll save money on the fuel being replaced.
  • Your old heating system – if your existing heating system is very inefficient a ground source heat pump will help you to save even more money.
  • Water heating – if the pump will be heating water, this could limit its efficiency, so you might want to consider installing some solar thermal panels on the roof to heat the water. This will make the heat pump more efficient.
  • Using the controls effectively – learn how to use the controls on your heat pump effectively. Your installer should be able to advise you on this.

Buyers guides and a field trials report are available from the Energy Saving Trust if you want more information. It is worth bearing in mind that heat pumps are now classed as permitted developments in England, Scotland and Wales which means you will not need planning permission in order to install them.

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