Increase Energy Efficiency with Ground Source Heat Pump Installation
The ground source heat pump, which is also known as GSHP and geothermal pump, absorbs the heat from the ground with the use of pipes that are buried in your land. Ground source heat pump installations compare favourably with all other forms of renewable heating systems in terms of efficiency and lifespan. The main benefits of ground source heat pumps are:
- Cost saving: Save up to 50% on heating bills
- Production of renewable energy
- Grants and incentives from the UK government (RHI)
- An invisible heating system with low noise level
- They are automated and require low maintenance and low running costs
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Ground Source Heat Pump Cost
Ground source heat pump installations are one of the most efficient heating solutions due to the fact that the temperature of the ground remains relatively constant through the year. It is important to note that before the actual ground source heat pump installation, proper home insulation needs to be installed.
Ground source heat pump installation requires an upfront investment, but its running cost is much lower than other renewable heating systems. For example, the air source heat pump which has to be located outdoors has more moving parts and need to incorporate energy-consuming defrosting elements to tackle the formation of ice during the winter season. Moreover, ground source heat pumps have a long lifespan and they can run for up to 20-25 years. They also require low maintenance after installation by certified installers.
The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates that an average performing ground source heat pump could save you:
- between £960 and £1,500 a year to replace LPG (non-condensing)
- between £790 and £1,425 a year to replace electric heating (old storage heaters)
- between £130 and £220 a year to replace oil-fired heating (non-condensing)
The ground source heat pump installation cost depends largely on the size of the property and its insulation level. A well-insulated house will need a smaller heat pump with small ground loops, which therefore will be less expensive. Ground source heat pumps installations fit ideally to modern buildings, where they have a high coefficient of performance (COP) if they deliver to a large warm water circuit (as in underfloor heating) rather than a small high-temperature circuit (as in wall mounted radiators).
Ground Source Heat Pump Installation Cost
Ground source heat pump installation design depends on the calculation of the building’s heat loss, the level of energy consumption, and the domestic hot water requirements. This will help in choosing the accurate size of the heat pump and determining if the installation of ground source heat pump borehole or the horizontal loop system is needed.
Costs vary whether you set up a vertical or a horizontal system. There is a significant difference in groundwork costs between horizontal and vertical systems. Although the horizontal installation is cheaper, it requires a minimum of ½ an acre of land.
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The costs depend on each individual case and numbers do not represent actual offers. They are merely for general reference.
Ground Source Heat Pump Installation Guide
Ground source heat pumps can have either open loop or closed loop systems buried underground. The open loop system requires access to ponds while the closed loop system does not. The closed loop system comes in two types:
- Direct expansion (DX): where the refrigerant is circulated directly through the ground loop;
- Indirect expansion: where the antifreeze solution circulates through the ground loop and energy is transferred to or from the heat pump refrigerant circuit via a heat exchanger.
In indirect systems, pipes made of high-density polyethene are used with diameters between 20mm and 40mm. For direct expansion systems, copper pipes are used with a diameter of 12mm to 15mm.
The first step of ground source heat pump installation is the excavation of the loop fields. The loops are then buried either horizontally in a shallow trench (at a depth of 1.0m – 2.0m) or vertically in a borehole.
Vertical loop systems are used where land area is limited and for larger installations. They are inserted as U-tubes into pre-drilled boreholes that can be between 15m and 120m deep.
Horizontal loop system installation requires relatively large areas, free from hard rock or large boulders, and a minimum soil depth of 1.5m. It is particularly suitable in rural areas, where properties are larger. Multiple pipes are placed either side-by-side or overlapping in a single trench.
Once the ground loops are installed, pressure tested and buried, the heat pump system should need no further attention. However, its location needs to be recorded to avoid it being accidentally disturbed.
Ground Source Heat Pump Maintenance
The ground source heat pump system requires simple annual routine maintenance after installation. During routine maintenance, your technician can check the level of the antifreeze that circulates in the loops, and make sure that your loop pressure and temperatures are correct.
The underground pipes do not require maintenance but they can be checked for leaking. Last but not least, the air ducts that distribute the heated air throughout your home must be maintained in order to assure maximum energy efficiency.
Ground Source Heat Pump Problems
Heat pumps are the most sustainable heating system installations that will lower your electricity bills and contribute to saving the environment. However, the ground source heat pumps have few disadvantages that you need to be aware of.
- It is not a DIY project, and the performance of the heat pump will strongly depend on the proficiency of the installer.
- Ground source heat pumps require electricity to run. For maximum efficiency, you need an all-around efficient system of heating. For instance, heat pumps can be coupled with solar panels.
- Heat pumps work best with underfloor heating - this is because they will typically heat the water in your heating system to between 35 to 45 ºC. Traditional radiator systems may require larger effect to maintain the same indoor temperature and may take longer to heat your room.
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