Guide to Ground Source Heat Pumps

December 9, 2015


This guide will tell you all you need to know about installing a system in your new or existing building and how to maximise its potential. At Nicholson Nairn Architects we have designed properties for many years using this type of renewable energy. Our clients are very happy with the results, not least with the low bills they now see. So….


What Is a Ground Source Heat Pump?

Example of excavation works on one of our projects at Medburn.


Well GSHPs use pipes that are typically dug in to your garden at a depth of 2 metres. They are filled with a mixture of water and antifreeze that loops around the pipes in order to extract heat from the ground which in turn passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump.


Unlike the surrounding air temperature, the ground stays at a relatively constant temperature all year round so can even be used in darkest winter. Unlike gas boilers, heat pumps deliver low temperatures over longer periods as opposed to short blasts of intense heat. Therefore you will notice your radiators do not feel as hot to the touch.


Is a GSHP suitable for me?



There are a number of things you need to consider before considering a GSHP….


Is my garden big enough?


Your garden doesn’t has to be huge but you do need to be aware that it does need to be dug up in order to install the pipes. So if your prized tulips have pride of place then maybe it’s not for you. If space is limited than there is always the option of a vertical system that uses deep bore holes.


Is my home suitable?


By combining the system with a new build will reduce the overall cost of the installation. Your home also needs to be well insulated and draught proof in order to maximise the systems efficiency.


What heating system do you currently use?


Underfloor heating systems are the best option with GSHPs due to the lower water temperature of the pipes. This may not be feasible on an existing building though. Traditional radiators can be utilised but are not as efficient.


How much do they cost?




Installing a typical system costs around £11,000- £15,000. Running costs will depend on a number of factors including the size of your home and how well insulated it is.


How much will I save?


This can vary a lot depending on a number of factors discussed above but typically a four bedroomed detached home with an average system would save the following replacing these existing fuels per year.


Gas - £410 to £595

Electric - £830 to £1465

Oil - £475 to £725

LPG - £1315 to £1975

Coal - £645 to £1045


Can I get any financial support?




You may be eligible to receive payments for the heat you generate using a heat pump through the UK Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Typically this is around £2610 to £3940 a year.




For more information please contact Nicholson Nairn Architects for your free consultation on your next building project. Big or small.

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