A 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
Where typical central heating systems burn fossil fuels in order to generate heat, GSHPs use electricity to harvest heat from the ground.
A gGSHP does this by using a network or pipes – either ground loops or boreholes – that are buried in the ground. These are filled with a refrigerant that gently extract the heat, before passing it through a compressor in the GSHP to increase its temperature. This higher grade heat energy is then used for heating and hot water.
Rachel, a Nu-Heat Account Manager, talks through everything you need to know about GSHPs:
In this video you’ll discover
0:04 What is a ground source heat pump?
0:10 How do ground loops work?
0:17 How much land do you need for ground loops?
0:37 When would you choose a borehole set up?
0:47 Siting the ground source heat pump and cylinder
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 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.
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%.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
When considering a GSHP, cost is always going to be a key consideration. You’ll want to find out more about how much a GSHP costs to install, their running costs and what to expect with maintenance.
A well-designed GSHP will be as much as 4x more efficient than a gas boiler, deliver low running costs and benefit from the Boiler Upgrade Scheme payment – all whilst being kinder to the environment at the same time!
GSHP installation costs vary according to the project and whether ground loops or boreholes are used to extract the heat from the ground.
As a rough idea, you can expect the GSHP and its components to cost around £10,000, and a ground loop installation to cost around £4000.
A GSHP does cost more than an air source heat pump (ASHP) or a fossil fuel boiler, but the Government offer a grant of £6,000 through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to help make it more affordable.
A well-designed GSHP system in the right type of project will deliver low running costs over its lifetime.
The table below shows how the running costs of ground source heat pumps compare to common fossil fuel alternatives. Remember, you could also receive BUS payments to further reduce the running costs of a GSHP.
|*Please use this table as a guide as energy prices can vary.|
|ENERGY SOURCE||INPUT COST||EFFICIENCY||RUNNING COST|
|Mains Gas||4.3p/kWh||89% efficient||4.8p/kWh|
GSHPs can last up to 25 years. To ensure you get the best out of yours, and ensure continued high efficiency, it should be serviced annually.
During annual maintenance checks, you can expect these main components of the GSHP to be checked:
- The control equipment
- Pipes that are above the ground, along with their connection points
- The compressor
- The water pump
- The anti-freeze and water mixture
You can also expect to have the GSHP ground collectors filled and flushed around every 8 years.
The service cost of a ground source heat pump is around £200-300.
If you install an MCS approved renewable heating system, like a ground source heat pump, you can apply the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which offers an upfront voucher of £6000 towards the installation of a GSHP, helping to reduce the overall cost.
As the name suggests, the scheme is aimed at existing properties, encouraging the switch from fossil fuel boilers to low carbon heat pumps.
We’re here to help you with your renewables project.
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
Paul and Dana
GSHPs are at their most efficient when producing low temperatures. Because of this, GSHPs are the perfect accompaniment for an underfloor heating system (UFH).
As warm water UFH covers the entire floor area of each room, it is able to effectively heat the home using much lower water temperatures, maximising the efficiency of the GSHP.
By providing lower temperatures over sustained periods of time, a GSHP can improve efficiency for underfloor heating systems, meaning lower costs on bills and a more environmentally friendly approach to heating a home.
How are GSHPs installed?
When it comes to installing an efficient GSHP system, a good design is absolutely essential. At Nu-Heat, we guide you through the process of installing a GSHP, provide detailed designs and support the installer right through to commissioning with our MCS support package.
There are 3 main steps to installing a ground source heat pump:
You’ll want to be confident that a GSHP pump can affordably heat your home and provide hot water whenever needed. Because GSHPs are a very different type of technology to a boiler, far more thought and preparation has to go into their design. Nu-Heat is a specialist in renewable heating which is why we offer:
- Expert advice and support to ensure a GSHP is right for you.
- Fully integrated heating design of your GSHP and UFH.
- Room-by-room heat loss calculations to select the correct size GSHP and ensure efficiency.
- Support with MCS compliance and commissioning of the GSHP to provide the MCS certificate required for BUS applications.
- Mechanical and electrical drawings, installation manuals and user guides specific to your GSHP system.
There’s a bit more work involved in installing a GSHP than an ASHP, but once fitted they offer the very highest levels of efficiency. You’ll need the expertise of a good supplier, a competent installer (no specialist skills required) and a contractor to carry out the groundworks.
- The GSHP is sited inside the property in a plant room together with the flow and return heating pipework and the flow and return from the ground collector array.
- The collector array will either be ground loops or boreholes. Horizontal ground loops can be laid by a groundworker with some assistance from the heating engineer. Vertical boreholes can be drilled as another option, which can save space but tends to cost around twice as much as the ground loop option.
- Nu-Heat provides all of the components and collector array required to install the GSHP, along with a full set of mechanical and electrical drawings which will be tailored to suit the project.
After your ground source heat pump has been installed, it will need to be commissioned. This crucial step checks that everything is working as it should be and allows it to be signed off as MCS accredited for the BUS payment. As an MCS accredited company, our engineers can help with this final step, which includes:
- MCS paperwork – We take on the paperwork to ensure the system is compliant to MCS standards. We can also provide all the necessary documentation to support a BUS application, as well as registering the warranties and guarantees.
- Onsite commissioning – We have our own experienced engineers that are able to visit the property to commission your system, ensuring quality of install and MCS compliance. They are also on hand to explain how the system is controlled.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MCS-compliant GSHP installations qualify for Boiler Upgrade Scheme payment of £6,000 (figures correct as at March 2022), which can be used to offset the cost of the installation.
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.
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.
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.
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.