1. How do ground source heat pumps work?

Ground Source Heat pumps use thermal energy that is stored below the earth’s surface to provide heating and hot water.

2. What type of heating system do they work best with?

Ground Source Heat Pumps are most efficient with an under-floor heating system, in which the water temperature does not have to be as high as for conventional radiators.

3. Do ground Source Heat Pumps work in the winter?

Yes. Unlike Air Source Heat pumps, which would draw the cold air in during winter, the temperature beneath the earth’s surface is constant all year round, meaning GSHPs are effective all year round.

4. How is a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) powered?

Ground Source Heat Pumps are driven by electricity.  They can produce between three and five units of heat for every one unit of electricity used to power them.

5. Are heat pumps efficient?

Most definitely.  The efficiency of a heat pump will be dependent upon the quality of the design and the installation itself; however efficiencies (rated as coefficients of performance or COP’s) of 5 are not uncommon.

6. Is Heat Pump technology new?

Heat Pump technology has been around for more than 50 years and heat pumps have become more efficient with time.  They are common throughout Europe and North America and are a proven cost effective alternative to fossil fuels.

7. How big is the actual heat pump?

Heat pumps are generally a little bigger than conventional boilers and take up the space equivalent of a large fridge.  Access is required for maintenance and we recommend a minimum of 50cm around each side of the heat pump to allow access to the internals.

8. Are Ground Source Heat Pumps environmentally friendly?

GSHP’s can offer considerable long-term environmental advantages compared to other heating sources.  Although they run on electricity, the heat they absorb from the ground is continually replenished.  An Open-Loop heat pump can supply the same quantity of heat as a conventional boiler whilst producing approximately 75% less CO₂ emissions, thereby reducing your Carbon Footprint.

9. Are they compatible with Solar or other renewable technologies?

A GSHP can be used together with Solar technology to provide low carbon hot water in the summer. There are sites where the electricity supplied to run the heat pump comes from renewable sources, such as photovoltaic cells, resulting in zero CO₂emissions.

10. How do running costs compare with conventional alternatives?

GSHP Open-Loop systems can offer very high efficiency and low running costs.  As GSHP’s are 3-5 times more efficient than a conventional heating system, you could save up to 75% on your heating and hot water bills.  They are considerably more efficient than electric and oil fired systems, as are modern gas fired boilers.  A Heat Pump system, however, is cheaper to run than a gas fired boiler. (Link to costing example – TO FOLLOW)

11. How much does it cost to install an Open-Loop system?

The cost of an installation will vary depending on the size of the property, the system requirements and the prevailing hydro-geology.  The initial outlay will be greater than for a conventional heating and hot water system but these costs can be off-set by considerably lower running costs.  There are also Government backed incentive schemes in the pipeline.

12. Are grants available?

Yes. The government backed Green Deal is aimed at helping with the initial outlay required to make your home more energy efficient. The Renewable Heat Incentive and Renewable Heat Premium Payment schemes are aimed to help reduce the running costs of renewable heat systems such as heat pumps. Click on the links above for further information.

13. Can Ground Source Heat Pumps provide cooling?

Yes. Reverse cycle heat pumps deliver both cooling and heating very effectively. Cooling provided by heat exchange with cold ground is inherently more effective than air conditioning, which typically exchanges heat with hot air.

14. What about servicing and maintenance?

A GSHP can be expected to last over 20 years – longer than a conventional boiler.  The heat exchanger within the heat pump should have a life of over 50 years.  Consequently, there should be no need for regular servicing although we do recommend that systems operations are checked annually.

15. Do Open-Loop systems contain any dangerous substances or contaminants?

No.  Unlike a closed-loop system, which pumps an anti-freeze solution through pipes buried under the ground, an open-loop system simply takes water from an aquifer, removes heat from it and returns the same water to the ground.  Refrigerant is present in the heat pump itself, which is housed above ground.  The refrigerant part of the heat pump is hermetically sealed within the workings of the pump.

16. Will a single phase electricity supply be sufficient?

For almost all single house domestic applications, a single phase power supply is sufficient.  Some larger systems may require multiple single phase units, or the installation of a three-phase supply.

17. I am having a property built, is a heat pump something that I should consider?

DEFINATELY!  Current building regulations require all new buildings to be extremely well insulated, meaning less heat loss and hence less heat requirement.  Heat pumps work best with under-floor heating which is common in new buildings.

18. I have an existing property and am thinking of having a heat pump installed. Is this feasible?

It depends upon a number of factors such as the heating system layout, (hot water cylinder, radiators or under-floor heating etc.) and the insulation properties of the building.  This can be assessed by commissioning a standard assessment procedure (SAP) report.

19. I have a fairly modern home but no under-floor heating, just standard radiators, are these OK to run from a heat pump?

Assuming insulation of the property is adequate, a heat pump can work but larger or additional radiators may be required.

20. Can the heat pump be installed in an outside building like a garage or basement?

Sometimes this is preferable as it means the heat pump is closer to the borehole which makes installation simpler.  Some people have specific enclosures or plant rooms built for their heat pumps.

21. Who can install Ground Source Heat Pumps?

It is recommended that installation work should only be carried out by an accredited MCS installer. Only heat pumps that are MCS accredited commissioned by accredited MCS installers are eligible for the RHPP and the RHI.

22. The terminology used is quite confusing. Is there are Glossary of Terms to help me understand better?

Yes. Please follow the link for our Glossary of Terms.