Anyone can heat their home with energy that is absorbed from the ground. Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP) are buried in your garden and can reduce your energy bills by heating your water and your radiators, they can also heat your under floor heating if you have that installed in your home also. The way that it works is that beneath the surface the ground stays at a constant temperature of around 10C to 12C, this is throughout the year so even if it is the middle of winter you can still be heating your home through the GSHP.
A GSHP circulates water and antifreeze around a loop of pipes which is buried in your garden, this loop of pipes is commonly known as a ground loop. The heat in the ground is then absorbed into the fluid and is pumped through a heat exchanger which is located in the heat pump. The lower grade heat is then passed through the heat pump compressor and is concentrated into a higher temperature which can then heat your home. Ground loop fluid which then cools, passes back into the ground where it then absorbs more energy from the ground. This process then begins again, it is continuous whilst the heating is required. You can have a small amount of ground loop or a larger amount depending on the size of your home and depending on the size of your garden.
The ground loop can either be laid flat in your garden, coiled or if you are limited in space you can install a vertical loop into the ground about 100 metres in depth. Although heat pumps do use electricity when they are running, the heat that they extract is renewed naturally. They do not use high temperatures like boilers as their temperature is much lower over longer periods. Radiators powered by GSHP are never red hot to touch like boiler powered radiators so in winter they have to be left on all the time in order to heat your house sufficiently.
What are the benefits of GSHP?
1. Reduces your carbon footprint.
2. Lower energy bills.
3. Needs little maintenance once installed, unlike conventional boilers.
4. If you previously used oil, fuel deliveries are a thing of the past.
Is it suitable for your home? Consider these below:
· Is your garden large enough? It does not have to be a particularly large garden but it needs to be accessible for machinery to fit the ground loop. The ground also needs to be suitable for digging the trench.
· Make sure that your home is well insulated because GSHP are of a lower temperature than your traditional boiler. Draughty homes will not make the system work to its best ability.
· If your house is a new build then it will be cheaper than installing it in a older house as the installation will be built into the cost of the build.
· What fuel are you replacing? Heat pumps are not recommended for homes just on gas. Electric and coal systems can be replaced with GSHP and fuel bills can be greatly reduced.
It costs about £9,000 to £17,000 to install a system and of course the running costs will vary due to the different sizes of homes. Also how well insulated your home is makes a difference.