Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps, or ground source heat pumps as they are also known, use heat from the ground to warm properties.
Pipes are buried in the garden and water is passed through these pipes which then extract the heat naturally found in the ground. This heat can then be used in central heating or hot water systems. Geothermal heat pumps are a relatively new technology so you could assume they are more efficient than traditional heating systems.
How do Geothermal Heat Pumps Work?
A series of pipes, known as a ground loop, are buried, usually the back garden. Water, together with anti-freeze, is pumped around this loop and extracts heat at a low temperature from the earth. The heated water mixture is then passed through a compressor which increases its temperature even further. The mixture can then be used to heat the home much like a traditional boiler system. Once cooled, the mixture then travels back to the loop where it can be used time and time again.
See also our other page for more information on installing a ground source heat pump.
How efficient are Geothermal Heat Pumps?
Although there will still be fuel bills to pay as the heat pump runs off electricity, there are savings to made in terms of the fuel your system replaces - and the more expensive that fuel, the greater these savings will be. You are also more likely to see a reduction in running costs with a new pump especially if the heating system you had before was inefficient.
The government runs a Renewable Heat Incentive and it may also be possible to receive some income through that.
A further advantage of having a geothermal heat pump is that they require very little maintenance and are very durable. Because of this, a guarantee is often given for the underground piping to last up to fifty years. These pumps cause no pollution and also operate quietly.
The heat pump is more efficient than traditional gas boilers and can save as much as £300 a year on heating bills. Geothermal heat pumps also tend to be linked up to under floor heating systems which require less heat than radiator systems. This makes the pumps even more efficient. Indeed, it is one of the main reasons why pump systems can save their owners £600 a year in comparison to standard electric boilers.
How much does Installation of this Type of Pump Cost?
Installation of a complete geothermal heat pump system can cost from £9,000 up to £17,000 and the heat exchanger can cost anything up to half of that, depending on its size and the amount of drilling needed to install it.
It is necessary to ensure that the pump is correctly sized when installation takes place. Installing the correct sized pump initially will increase energy efficiency and lower the cost of electricity bills. On average, it is possible to save between 20% and 60% on annual home utility bills by switching to a geothermal heat pump but it can still take between five to ten years before any return can be seen on the initial investment. However, it can be a good long term decision for any homeowner who intends to remain in their property.
An energy efficient alternative to traditional heating
Geothermal heat pumps are one of the most efficient heating systems on the market because they have a natural source of heat. The ground temperature does not fluctuate much even in winter which means the pump does not require extra electricity to produce more heat. The fact the heat pump creates more energy than it uses makes it stand it out when compared with standard gas and electric boilers. Indeed, this increased efficiency is reflected in the savings that can be made which run into the hundreds of pounds a year. Low maintenance costs only add to the attraction of geothermal heat pumps and these could soon become the heating system of choice in the UK.
See also this page for More info on heat pumps.