Renewable Energy

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Extract heat from the ground all year round

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes which are buried in your property’s garden or land 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 property’s garden or land. 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.

The length of the ground loop depends on the size of your property 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.

Benefits of ground source heat pumps
  • Reduce your energy bills. Your fuel bills will be reduced significantly by using a ground source heat pump, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating.
  • Get paid for the heat you generate. The UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) pays you for the heat you generate and use. You will receive quarterly, index-linked payments for a fixed number of years (7 years for domestic systems, 20 years for commercial systems) from the date when your application to the RHI scheme is approved.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Your property’s carbon emissions will be reduced by switching to ground source heat pump heating, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating.
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  • Reduce your carbon footprint. Your property’s carbon emissions will be reduced by switching to ground source heat pump heating, especially if you are replacing conventional electric heating.
  • No deliveries needed. As no fuel is being burned to generate heat, no fuel deliveries will be needed.
  • Heat your home and water. Your ground source heat pump system will heat not only your home, but your water too.
  • Low maintenance. Minimal maintenance is required to keep a ground source heat pump system performing efficiently.

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 property 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 [link to page] are usually easier to install than ground source as they don’t need any trenches or drilling, but they are often less efficient than ground source heat pumps.

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.

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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. Heat pumps have some impact on the environment as they need electricity to run, but the heat they extract from the ground, the air, or water is constantly being renewed naturally.

Is a ground source heat pump suitable for you?
  • Is your garden or land suitable for a ground loop? It doesn’t have to be particularly big, but the ground needs to be suitable for digging a trench or a borehole and accessible to digging machinery.
  • Is your property well insulated? Since ground source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it’s essential that your property is well insulated and draught-proofed for the heating system to be effective.
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The most advanced boilers are fully automatic and control the amount of fuel and air supplied to the combustion chamber – as a result, they are highly efficient and emissions are low.

They are fed wood pellets or chips from a pellet storage system (known as a hopper), and some systems are now able to burn not only wood pellets/chips, but also logs and other wood, using a hybrid biomass boiler. Aside from these hybrid boilers, a biomass systems will typically have one type of compatible fuel, which the user must use exclusively, so as not to damage their heating system.

How much will you earn and save?
    • 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, the largest radiators possible will be the most efficient. We will advise on this.
    • Your fuels costs. You will still have to pay fuel bills with a heat pump because it is powered by electricity, but you will save on the fuel you are replacing.
    • Your old heating system. If your old heating system was inefficient, you are more likely to see lower running costs with a new heat pump.
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  • 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 [link to Solar iBoost] to provide hot water in the summer and help keep your heat pump efficiency up.
  • Using Controls. Learn how to control the system so you can get the most out of it. You will probably need to set the heating to come on for longer hours, but you might be able to set the thermostat lower and till feel comfortable. You will be left with control instructions after installation so you can use it as effectively as possible.

These are the savings you might make every year when replacing an existing heating system in an average four-bedroom detached home with an average ground source heat pump installation:

Existing systemFuel bill savings (£/year)Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payment (£/year)
1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015
Carbon dioxide savings (kgCO2/year)
Electric (old storage heaters)£830 to £1,465£2,610 to £3,9407,100 to 12,000 kg
Gas older (non-condensing)£410 to £595£2,610 to £3,9402,000 to 3,000 kg
Oil older (non-condensing)£475 to £725£2,610 to £3,940 3,000 to 4,500 kg
LPG older (non-condensing)£1,315 to £1,975£2,610 to £3,9402,700 to 4,100 kg

Different boiler efficiencies for each fuel type have been assumed as heat pumps produce more energy (as heat) than they use (as electricity), so their efficiency is more than 100%. Visit the Energy Saving Trust’s website to find out more about how these calculations were made.

If your system is eligible for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme or the Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, you could earn quarterly, index-linked cash payments for 7 years for a domestic system and 20 years for a non-domestic system.

The amount you receive through the RHI scheme will depend on a number of factors including the latest tariffs available and – in some cases – metering. You can estimate how much money you could earn through RHI using the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)’s RHI payment calculator.

One part of the RHI eligibility criteria is that your ground source heat pump system must be installed by an MCS Accredited Installer, such as Just Energy Solutions.

Ground source heat pump maintenance

Heat pump systems typically come with a warranty of two to three years, and many manufacturers also offer options for warranty extension for a fee. You can expect them to operate for 20 years or more, however, they do require regular scheduled maintenance. A yearly check by you and a more thorough check by a professional installer every 3 years should be sufficient.

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We will leave written details of any maintenance checks you should undertake to ensure everything is working properly. Consult with us for exact maintenance requirements for the system best suited to your property. The Ground Source Heat Pump Association says there is no need for safety checks for ground source heat pumps and routine maintenance requirements are very low. These may include pre-heating season checks of the water pump, external pipes and fittings and electronics.
Planning permission

Domestic ground source heat pumps are generally allowed as permitted developments, but check with your local authority to find out whether you need planning permission or not.

How much will it cost?

An average, domestic ground source heat pump system will cost £11,000 – £15,000 (including VAT at 5%). Commercial ground source heat pump systems can vary hugely in size and, therefore, in cost.

Running costs will vary depending on a number of factors including the size of your property, how well insulated it is and what room temperatures you are aiming to achieve. Get in touch with our team [link to contact] to arrange a no obligation survey and quote for your ground source heat pump system.

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Pellet costs depend mainly on the size and method of delivery. If you have room for a large fuel store that will accept several tonnes of pellets at a time, delivered in bulk by tanker, you can keep the cost down to around £230 per tonne in most parts of the UK.

For more accurate costs, you can contact one of the RHI scheme’s approved list of sustainable wood fuel providers.

How long will it take?

From the moment you call or email the team [link to Contact Us page], we will normally be able to book a survey for you within 1 – 3 working days.

Our surveyor will carry out an inspection of your property and give you a quote for your system within 3 – 5 working days.

If you are happy to go ahead with your ground source heat pump installation at the quoted price, our engineers will typically be scheduled to start work within 2 – 4 weeks and complete your installation within 1 – 2 weeks (larger systems could mean your system takes longer to install).

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Once your system is installed and signed off, we can assist you in your application to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme) (provided your system is eligible under the Domestic RHI scheme or the Non-Domestic RHI scheme). The RHI application is submitted to your energy provider, and the time it will take to process your application varies from provider to provider.

Who would carry out the installation?

Our multi-skilled, experienced and MCS approved engineers are fully qualified to carry out your domestic or commercial ground source heat pump installation.

Our team will be dressed in uniform and carrying their Just Energy Solutions ID card; with years of experience, they always work tidily and will be able to answer any questions you may have.

Call or email us now for more information, to book a survey and/or for a no obligation quote.

South East Office

North Orbital Road

St Albans

AL2 1DL

T: 0844 880 8189

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

E: hello@justenergysolutions.com

9 + 14 =

South East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

North Orbital Road

St Albans

Hertfordshire AL2 1DL

t: 0844 880 8189

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

North East Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Suite 8, SV Rutter Business Centre

126 Great Lime Road

Newcastle NE12 6RU

t: 01912 600 556

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

South West Office

Just Energy Solutions Limited

Penstraze Business Centre

Truro

Cornwall TR4 8PN

t: 01872 562 118

e: hello@justenergysolutions.com

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