Ground Source Heat Pump – Future Proofed Homes
Our homes at Lime Grove are all heated with a ground source heat pump, a versatile and eco-friendly heating and cooling system that can help you save up to 50% of billing. It promises to deliver good year-round energy efficiency and thus offers considerable long-term environmental advantages. Some people have a good knowledge of ground source, yet many have very limited or no knowledge whatsoever. Here’s what you should know about this amazing and innovative technology.
What is a ground source heat pump (GSHP)?
According to Kensa, a ground source heat pump is the best heating system for the lowest carbon new-build homes. It extracts low-temperature solar energy stored in the ground or water using buried pipework and compresses this energy into a higher temperature. It can deliver 3 to 4 kilowatts (kW) of heat for every 1 kW of electricity it consumes. Using freely available heat energy from the ground, it achieves higher efficiency than any other heating system.
By delivering 3 to 4 times the consumed electricity, a heat pump can reduce a property’s heating costs by around two-thirds compared to direct electric heating. Also efficient with times of electricity consumption, a ground source system can run when electricity is at its lowest cost or carbon.
Ground source heat pumps emit no point-of-use carbon emissions or air pollution. With the government pushing energy-efficiency measures and banning fossil fuel heating in new builds from 2025, ground source heat pumps ensure our homes at Lime Grove are future-proofed.
What are the benefits of ground source heat pumps?
• Low carbon emissions & improved air quality
Boasting high efficiencies, ground source heat pumps emit no emissions and offer a low-carbon replacement for combustion fossil fuel systems.
According to statistics, 17,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year by reducing mortality and diseases linked to poor air quality. Ground source heat pumps do not create particulates, Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), or Sulphur Oxide (SOx) – all of which contribute to air pollution.
And it doesn’t stop there. The more that renewable sources of power such as solar and wind contribute to the electrical grid, the lower the carbon content of electricity. This means that the small portion of electricity consumed by a ground source heat pump will become less and less carbon-intensive in years to come.
• Efficient & affordable heating
Compared to oil or LPG, you can expect to save around 30-50% on heating bills.
A ground source heat pump is powered through electricity, delivering 3 to 4kW of renewable energy for every 1kW of electrical power it consumes. This efficiency makes ground source heat pumps the most energy-efficient heating technology available, resulting in cheaper energy bills and low carbon.
Here’s an estimated running cost per house type for heating and hot water at Lime Grove based on a cost of electricity at 17p.unit.
• Free heat from the ground
From rivers to rock, ground source heat pumps absorb solar energy from a variety of natural resources. Unlike fossil fuels, ground source heat pumps offer a modern, cleaner, and sustainable means to utilise naturally occurring energy from the ground. You can even tap into this energy from your own back garden.
• Installed inside your property
A ground source heat pump uses heat from outside your property. However, the heat pump itself is installed safely inside the property – in the same way as a traditional boiler. No louder than a kitchen appliance such as a dishwasher, the heat pump is easy to install in an airing cupboard or kitchen cabinet.
• A practical & safe alternative to fossil fuels
Ground source heat pumps have no annual servicing requirements, need minimal maintenance, and remove the hassle of fuel deliveries.
Compared to traditional gas boilers, oil, or LPG systems, ground source systems aren’t vulnerable to fuel price increases or energy security threats. They also use a non-combustion fuel source, so there is no fire risk.
• Smart heating
When combined with smart controls, ground source heat pumps can save you even more money on heating. Smart heating uses property physics and preferences to create your desired heating schedule. It can take into account the cheapest time for electricity use – for example, operating a heat pump when the grid demand, price, and carbon are lowest.
• Suited to all sorts of properties & projects
Heat pumps can be installed into any building from new to old and urban to rural, challenging the misconception that they are only for new builds. New and existing properties reap the low-carbon and affordable advantages of ground source heat pumps.
• Cooling in the summer
A ground source heat pump can often deliver active or passive cooling to any property. Whether passively transferring the ground’s original temperature to the building or actively circulating chilled water, cooling is a useful function for commercial applications or homes in the summer.
• Compatible with other renewable technologies
Ground source heat pumps can be used with other forms of renewable technology or waste heat sources to further improve efficiencies, reduce costs and be part of a bigger solution. What about using waste heat from a data centre and providing cooling at the same time, or using your own excess electricity from your onsite generation?
To make your heating 100% renewable, heat pumps can be powered by onsite solar and wind energy for self-sufficiency. They can even absorb energy from sources such as wastewater – providing it is deep enough.
• Increases property value
If the GSHP installation is well designed, it will increase the value of your property, making it a great investment.
How do gas boilers compare to ground source heat pumps?
Around 85% of UK homes use gas-fired central heating. To reduce carbon emissions, combat air pollution and help stop climate change, there must be a radical shift in how we heat our buildings and homes.
But why are ground source heat pumps better than gas boilers? And how does the lesser-known heat pump compare to the oh-so-familiar boiler?
A big benefit of a ground source heat pump is that it future-proofs properties – both in terms of sustainability and conforming to regulation. From 2025, the government has confirmed that gas boilers will no longer be an option for new builds. They are even set to commit to cutting carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, meaning that a significant amount of gas boilers will have to be ripped and replaced. In fact, to tackle the climate crisis, it’s possible that by the mid-2030s, the installation of new gas boilers will be banned entirely.
It’s not just the low-carbon reasons. Renewable heating systems, such as ground source heating, come without the flammability, risks, flues and regulations associated with gas. Using a non-flammable refrigerant, heat pumps also avoid the risks, servicing and expenses of fossil fuel systems.
‘We will reduce emissions through shifting from gas to electricity to heat our homes and by better
insulating the buildings in which we live and work.’
The Energy White Paper, Powering our Net Zero Future
How does a ground source heat pump work?
A ground source heat pump has quite simple functioning. In fact, it works the same way your fridge does: it transfers heat from one space to another. The main difference relies on what those spaces are. In the case of the fridge, it extracts heat from inside the fridge and places it outside.
A ground source heat pump (GSHP) transfers heat from the ground to your house. The constant year-round temperature of the ground—approx. 8-12°C—heats up the underground pipes that are able to capture this heat, heat it up further, and transport it to the wet central heating system in your houses, such as radiators, underfloor heating, showers, and faucets.