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What is a ground source heat pump?

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) is an energy efficient, renewable energy solution that is particularly suited to properties on larger plots. Up to 400% efficient, this type of heat pump extracts the free heat from the ground, using this for heating and hot water. A GSHP helps to reduce your carbon footprint and can even lower your energy bills.

  • Incredibly efficient, a GSHP transfers around four times more energy into the property as heat than it uses to extract it from the ground
  • MCS approved for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS)
  • Well-suited to properties on larger plots
  • Ground loop or bore hole installation options
  • Virtually silent operation
Introduction to Ground Source Heat Pumps

Benefits of a GSHP

‘Green’ heating

By moving away from fossil fuel heating, a GSHP helps to reduce carbon emissions and is kinder to the environment.
Renewable energy solution


A GSHP transfers as much as four times more energy into the property as heat than it uses to extract it from the ground.
Energy-efficient ground source heat pump

Qualifies for BUS payment

Save £7,500 with an upfront grant through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme.
RHI payments

Ideal for off-grid properties

Energy-efficient solution that delivers particularly low running costs for properties without access to mains gas.
GSHP - Off grid

Suitable for larger plots

Well-suited to properties on larger plots, with land available for the ground loop collectors.
GSHP - Larger plots

Horizontal or vertical installation options

Ground loop or borehole GSHP installation options available.
GSHP - Loops or borehole

Quiet technology

GSHPs are virtually silent in operation.
GSHP - Quiet tech

Is a ground source heat pump right for your home?

Now that you know more about GSHPs and how they are installed, there are a few other things to think about before deciding on one.

  1. Insulation. For a GSHP to work efficiently, keeping running costs low, it’s essential that the property is well insulated, ideally up to current building regulations.
  2. Heat emitter. A GSHP is at its most efficient when producing low water temperatures, so it should be paired with a low temperature heat emitter, like underfloor heating, to maximise its efficiency.
  3. Motive. If you are looking to create a sustainable home, moving away from fossil fuels with modest running costs, then a GSHP sounds like a good match. If your main motive is to save money, but you live in an older property with access to mains gas, the initial outlay and potential savings compared to sticking with gas will be minimal, so a GSHP might not be right for you.
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Ground loops or borehole: which should you choose?

There are two ways to harvest the heat energy from the ground with a GSHP: through ground loops or via a borehole. But which should you choose?

Ground Source Heat Pump Ground Loop Diagram

Ground loops

Ground loops are the most popular choice when installing a GSHP.

Collector pipes are buried at a 1 meter depth within the ground, drawing the warmth from the ground, through to the heat pump. Any energy that is extracted is continually replenished by the sun.

To install ground loops, you need plenty of available land – at least three times the total floor area of the property, ground and upper floors combined.

Pros of GSHP ground loops
  • Cheaper to install than boreholes
  • If landscaping works will be happening anyway, it’s no extra upheaval
  • No specialist contractors required
  • The ground loop trench can be dug at the same time as laying the foundations for a new build by the groundworker.
Cons of GSHP ground loops
  • A significant area of land is required, which can rule a GSHP out
  • Landscaping is required
  • You can’t develop the area once the ground loops are installed.

If you haven’t got the space to install ground loops but are set on a GSHP, you might consider a borehole.

Ground Source Heat Pump Borehole Diagram


A borehole is a vertical hole that is typically drilled between 40-120 metres deep. The ground collector, that extracts the heat energy, is dropped into this hole before being filled with a grout for added thermal conductivity.

To install a borehole, you will need a specialist contractor and the number of boreholes required depends on the project.

Pros of GSHP boreholes
  • Less space required compared to ground loops.
Cons of GSHP boreholes
  • Cost. Boreholes can cost as much as double in comparison to ground loops. This is due to the contractors, equipment, drilling and logistics involved
  • No additional payback. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme payment remains the same, whether you have installed a borehole or ground loops. This means the overall cost to install a GSHP with a borehole is higher
  • Specialist contractor is required.

If considering a borehole, it’s worth weighing up the cost of installation versus choosing an air source heat pump which would be significantly cheaper, is well suited to properties on smaller plots and still returns an efficiency of around 300%.

Find out more about ground source heat pumps

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For expert advice on renewables and underfloor heating, contact us today.

GSHP plant rooms

The GSHP unit is installed inside, meaning that space is required for a plant room to house the system. This is definitely something to factor in early on as it takes more space than an airing cupboard housing a boiler, which many people are used to.

As a rough guide, a typical GSHP plant room would be around 2.1 x 1m and would contain the heat pump, cylinder, pipework and the controller.


Are GSHPs more efficient than ASHPs?

Yes, a ground source heat pump is even more efficient than an air source heat pump. Both use existing warmth in the ground or air, but on average the ground stays at a more consistent temperature throughout the year than the air. This helps to avoid unexpected spikes and more predictable energy usage.

Not only are GSHPs more efficient than ASHPs, but they tend to last longer as they’re less exposed to weather. Despite GSHPs being more expensive to install (and the added hassle of work in your garden or grounds), they can save more money in the long run due to their efficiency.

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Our GSHP range

Here at Nu-Heat we make sure to use high quality, proven components for all our systems and installations. This is why we design and supply NIBE GSHPs with their providence for energy-efficient, low-carbon solutions for hot water and space heating.

NIBE ground source heat pumps

NIBE is a Swedish company who has a record manufacturing heat pumps for forty years, supplying clients the world over. GSHPs from NIBE are not only leaders in performance and functionality, they look great too!

Our range of market-leading NIBE ground source heat pumps are an efficient, low carbon renewable energy solution that suit a range of properties on larger plots.

  • Highly efficient, up to 400%!
  • Include modulating units (1155 and 1255) that adjust output based on the heat required, drawing less electricity
  • MCS approved for the Boiler Upgrade Scheme
  • Easy to use thanks to an intuitive display
  • Guaranteed for 7 years when supplied and commissioned by Nu-Heat
  • A reputation for quality with a name you can trust

I am now a committed ambassador for both renewable technologies and Nu‑Heat.

Dana and Paul

Ground source heat pump case study

Why choose a GSHP from Nu-Heat?

Whether you opt for ground loops or a borehole installation, Nu-Heat provides a complete design and supply GSHP package. This includes the ground source heat pump, the most suitable cylinder and a tailored system design, as well as mechanical and electrical docking drawings for a simple installation.

With our MCS support package, we can also support the installer with on-site commissioning of the GSHP and all of the paperwork required for a successful BUS application.

Complete package

Complete GSHP design, supply and commissioning support service ensures seamless system integration and performance.
Fully designed and integrated solution

Eligible for the BUS

All Nu-Heat ground source heat pumps are MCS approved for the BUS.
RHI payments

Straightforward installation

Step-by-step instructions and comprehensive mechanical and electrical drawings supplied as standard.
Installation guides and manuals

Long guarantee period

Ground source heat pumps are guaranteed for 7 years when supplied and commissioned by a Nu-Heat engineer.
7 year guarantee
Over 29 years experience
32 years’
heating experience
Heat pump installs
8000 +
heat pump installs
Underfloor heating
80000 +
underfloor heating systems

Want help finding the right heat pump?

We would love to speak with you to discuss your project. If you have a question about your existing Nu-Heat system, our technical support team are at hand.

Ground source heat pump FAQs

How much space do I need to install a GSHP?

This depends upon whether you choose horizontal ground loop or vertical borehole installation. Horizontal ground loops need the most space – typically at least three times your total floor area (including ground and upper floors). Vertical boreholes can be installed on a smaller plot, but there are restrictions as to how close these can be sited to buildings, so it is best to check with an expert before making a decision.

Don’t forget to account for space within your home for the GSHP, cylinder and buffer tank – most people choose to locate these in a separate plant room.

Do I need planning permission to fit a heat pump?

The installation of a GSHP on a domestic property does not normally require planning permission. This is because it falls under the scope of work you can undertake without an application, known as permitted development.

However, there are some exceptions to this. If the ground source heat pump will cover more than 0.5 hectares of land, then you will need to seek planning permission. In addition to this, if you live in a listed building, then you will need to contact your local council.

Learn more about planning permissions for heat pumps in our blog post.

What is meant by Coefficient of Performance?

A GSHP’s Coefficient of Performance, or COP, refers to the amount of energy produced by the heat pump compared to the amount of energy used to run it. The higher the COP, the more efficient the technology.

For example, an electric fire using 1kWh of electricity to generate 1kWh of heat would have a COP of 1 – making it 100% efficient as it uses the same amount of energy as it generates. A GSHP that uses 1kWh of electricity to generate 4kWh of heat would have a COP of 4 and is 400% efficient, extracting an additional 3kWh of heat from the ground to provide heating and hot water.

Can I use a GSHP with underfloor heating?

Absolutely! Underfloor heating (UFH) is at its most efficient when operating at lower flow temperatures – GSHPs provide a low-level, constant heat, making them a perfect partner for UFH.

Are there grants available for installing a GSHP?

MCS-compliant GSHP installations qualify for Boiler Upgrade Scheme payment of £7,500, which can be used to offset the cost of the installation.

Do GSHPs make noise?

No, they are virtually silent. Unlike air source heat pumps, that use a fan to extract heat from the air, ground source heat pumps harvest heat through pipework buried in the ground.

Will my GSHP be affected by the weather?

GSHP’s extract heat from the ground using pipes, typically buried 1m below the surface, where the year-round temperature is fairly stable. This is why ground source heat pumps are generally more efficient than air source, as air temperature fluctuates far more than ground temperatures.

Do ground source heat pumps provide hot water?

Yes, they do. GSHPs can produce heat for space heating – underfloor heating or low temperature radiators – as well as providing a property’s domestic hot water.

What are the maintenance processes and costs?

A ground source heat pump should be serviced yearly to maintain the warranty and to ensure that the system is working as it should be. The cost of an annual service will be around £200-£300.

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