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Ground Source Heat Pump Costs 2022

Ground source heat pumps are an eco-friendly alternative to gas boilers

They start from around £24,000

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme cuts your ground source heat pump cost by £6,000


Ground source heat pumps are a good alternative to fossil fuel-guzzling boilers, especially now that the UK government has committed to phasing boilers out.

They heat homes using only electricity and the ambient warmth of the soil in your garden, so no need to burn gas or oil.

Wondering how much you’ll pay for a ground source heat pump, and how much they cost to run? We've answered all that and more here.

To find your perfect heat pump, check out our easy-to-use comparison tool. Simply enter a few details about your home, and we’ll pass them on to our expert installers, who will provide you with free quotes.

3D visualisation of a ground source heat pump

What is a ground source heat pump?

A ground source heat pump runs water (often mixed with antifreeze) through pipes underground, which is heated by the earth’s warmth.

The water is then run through a heat exchanger, which compresses it and transfers it to your home’s heating system.

How much does a ground source heat pump cost?

Ground source heat pumps typically cost £24,000, going all the way up to £49,000 for more complex installations (typically vertical installations).

There’s the unit itself, the required groundwork (either a trench system or borehole), and the installation to consider.

The Boiler Upgrade Scheme provides support for ground source heat pumps. Launched in April 2022, the £450 million scheme gives grants of £6,000 to people installing ground source heat pumps.

Horizontal vs. vertical ground source heat pumps

There are two types of ground source heat pumps: horizontal and vertical.

Horizontal heat pumps require groundwork and piping to be spread across a wider area in your garden.

The space required for a horizontal installation means properties with large gardens are best suited.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, ground source heat pumps need about 2.5–3 times more land than the floor area of your house. So a 150m2 (square metres) house would need roughly 400–450m2 of land.

Vertical ground source heat pumps require at least one borehole to be drilled 100m deep, which is better for properties with smaller gardens. This requires heavy specialist machinery to create the hole, which makes it the more expensive option.

 

Ground source heat pump costs based on property size

How much a ground source heat pump will cost you depends on the size of your property. The bigger your property, the more energy is needed to heat it, increasing the total cost.

 

Property size (no. of rooms)Horizontal systemVertical system
2£19,000£22,000
4£26,000£34,000
6£40,000£52,000
7+£54,000£72,000

Please note, these costs are representative and do not reflect exactly what you might pay. Ground source heat pump installations are always priced on a case-by-case basis.

Why are ground source heat pumps so expensive?

Ground source heat pumps costs are much higher than air source heat pump costs. This is down to many factors.

First you have the installation process, which requires significantly more manual labour. A horizontal ground source heat pump, which is the simplest installation, still requires a large area of ground to be dug up.

If it’s a vertical installation, specialist equipment is needed to dig the hole, which can vary between seven metres and 122 metres.

Also, effective ground source heat pumps need an installer with an expert understanding of the movement of heat in the ground. They need to know the local geology, and the heating and cooling requirements of your home.

The low numbers of ground source heat pumps have an effect too. A report from the UK government found that 87% of all heat pumps sold by 2019 were air source, and just 9% were either ground source or water source.

Why are air source heat pumps cheaper?

Air source heat pumps are cheaper than ground source heat pumps because they’re far less complicated to install.

Unlike ground source heat pumps, you don’t need to install piping underground, which requires extensive work.

With air source heat pumps, as long as your home is properly insulated and has appropriately sized radiators, you usually only need to pay for the unit and a relatively simple installation.

Even if you do need additional work like better piping, bigger radiators, or underfloor heating, it’s still cheaper than the work needed to install a ground source heat pump.

However, because an air source heat pump is exposed to the elements, it’ll almost certainly need replacing before a ground source heat pump will – usually after 15–20 years.

If properly installed, a ground source heat pump can last 70 years or more.

Are costs expected to decrease?

Whether the cost of installing a ground source heat pump will decrease depends on the type of installation.

Vertical installation costs are unlikely to decrease any time soon, due to the highly specialised process needed to drill a borehole.

Horizontal installations don’t require anywhere near the same level of equipment, so as more installers are trained, the costs will drop.

Also, if you’re willing to dig the required trenches yourself, you can save money, though we’d always advise using a professional.

It’s likely as well that government grants will continue to expand, which will make it more affordable for people to install a ground source heat pump.

Illustration showing the different types of ground source heat pump installation

Are there any government grants for ground source heat pumps?

The UK government launched the Boiler Upgrade Scheme in April 2022, which can get you £6,000 off the cost of ground source heat pumps.

You may also be able to use this scheme to get £5,000 off the cost of an air source heat pump or biomass boiler.

It will run from April 2022 until April 2025 and is open to domestic and small non-domestic properties in England and Wales.

If you have one of these heating systems commissioned on or after April 1st 2022, you’ll qualify for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

What determines the cost of a ground source heat pump installation?

How much a ground source heat pump costs depends on a number of factors. These include:

  • The size of your property
  • How insulated the property is
  • The size of the heat pump
  • Whether it’s a vertical or horizontal installation
  • How much support you can get from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (up to £6,000)

The installation process will also focus on the heat loss capability of your property.

An efficiently insulated property will require a smaller heat pump, because it’ll require far less energy to heat your home.

Properties with poor insulation will need a larger ground source heat pump to warm them, which will of course increase the upfront cost.

If you want to start getting quotes for ground source heat pumps, fill in our simple form. Just input a few details about your home and our expert installers will get in touch with bespoke quotes.

 

Soil type

The type of soil can impact the price too, but of the heat pump itself rather than the installation.

The type of soil affects something called ‘thermal diffusivity’, which is the soil’s ability to hold and transfer heat.

Higher thermal diffusivity means your ground source heat pump won’t need to work as hard, because the ambient temperature is higher — so you can get a smaller, cheaper machine.

 

Size and quality of the heat pump

The size of a ground source heat pump affects the cost of it. Bigger properties will need larger heat pumps to efficiently warm them, so factor this in when considering which one to buy.

A ground source heat pump’s quality is important too, and spending too little on the unit could mean you’ll have to replace it sooner than you should. It’s best to think about getting a high-quality model so you don’t need to worry as much about it failing.

 

Existing heating infrastructure

If your radiators and/or underfloor heating system are poorly installed or insufficient for your property, you might need to completely replace them to work properly with a ground source heat pump. This can increase the total cost substantially.

Because of this, ground source heat pumps are best suited to new-build properties. Retrofits to older homes are possible, but may cost a good deal more.

Ground source heat pump running costs

In an average home, annual running costs for a ground source heat pump are between £860–£1,100 per year.

By comparison, a gas boiler in the same type of property can cost you up to £1,250 a year.

Ground source heat pumps use electricity, which is more expensive than gas, but they reach an average efficiency of between 300-400%.

Compared to the average efficiency of boilers in the UK, of around 95%, ground source heat pumps make much better usage of energy.

However, these are still estimates. To best calculate the running costs of a ground source heat pump, you need to consider the following:

 

  • The efficiency of the heat pump
  • How well insulated your house is
  • Temperature of the heat source
  • Your property’s heat distribution

Ground source heat pump maintenance costs

Once a ground source heat pump is installed, there is very little maintenance required.

Much of the infrastructure will last 70 years or more, giving your home access to eco-friendly heating for generations to come.

That being said, getting an annual check is required to keep most warranties valid. Checking for things like leakage, worn parts, and any other minor issues can help protect against the system breaking down.

How popular are ground source heat pumps in the UK?

There’s no doubt that ground source heat pumps have increased in popularity in the UK.

As of 2019, there were around 37,000 ground source heat pumps operating in Britain, up from roughly 20,000 in 2013 — but that’s not enough. It’s an increase, sure, but it won’t significantly reduce the UK’s carbon footprint.

Ground source heat pumps are slowly becoming more affordable, thanks in part to government grants aiming to reduce the entry price point.

People are also becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment too, so some are willing to pay the upfront costs to become more sustainable.

We expect that ground source heat pump installations will start to increase dramatically after the government’s ban on gas boilers for new-build properties takes effect in 2025.

The Future Homes Standard, which will also come into effect in 2025, is expected to ensure homes are futureproofed with sustainable heating solutions — including ground source heat pumps.

Next steps

Ground source heat pumps represent the future of sustainable home heating — it’s just a case of increasing accessibility and making them more affordable for all.

As long as the UK government continues to support grants for the technology, and doesn’t pivot back to gas boilers, ground source heat pumps will soon become a mainstay in many UK homes.

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

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