Are Ground Source Heat Pumps a Good Investment?
Ground Source Heat Pumps are a renewable energy alternative to your conventional oil or gas boiler.
How does a Ground Source Heat Pump work?
Ground Source Heat Pumps pump a mixture of water and antifreeze around an underground pipe called a ground loop. The mixture extracts heat from the ground. It then passes over a heat exchanger which transfers the heat into a fluid called a refrigerant. The heat then transforms the refrigerant from a liquid to a gas. This passes through a compressor which increases its temperature. Another heat exchanger transfers heat from the refrigerant to heat your radiators and generate hot water for your house.
Why do I need one?
Many people don’t realise this, but our houses are huge polluters. A recent report by the cross-party Policy Connect said that gas central heating boilers are a huge threat to the UK’s clean air goals. This makes Ground Source Heat Pumps an important renewable energy source to help reduce our carbon footprint.
How much do they cost?
Ground Source Heat Pumps typically cost more to install than conventional heating systems. They have low maintenance costs and can provide safe, reliable and emission-free heating for over 20 years. Installing a typical system costs approx. £10,000 to £18,000. Running costs include a small amount of electricity to power the heat pump, but the amount will depend on the size of your house and how well insulated it is. You can reduce the cost considerably by applying for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): A UK government scheme set up to encourage the uptake of renewable heat technologies and provides financial support for the first seven years.
How efficient are they?
For every kW of electricity consumed by the heat pump, around 4 kW’s of heat is generated in return, meaning you have a 300 – 400% cost-effectiveness ratio. At this efficiency level there will be 70% lower carbon dioxide emissions than for a gas boiler heating system. If the electricity is provided by renewable energy, then carbon emissions can be reduced to zero.
These type of heat pumps save energy by using the temperature of the ground to heat your home. But to be effective, you need to have a well-insulated house so you don’t lose any heat generated. So, before investing, make sure you check you have a well-insulated loft, attic or flat roof, properly insulated cavity walls and potentially double glazed windows.
Are they a good investment?
As the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, Ground Source Heat Pumps will heat your home and water all year round. They can also save you up to 70% off your fuel bill. So, if you have a well-insulated house, with enough outdoor space for the ground loop installation, and you take advantage of the government’s RHI, Ground Source Heat Pumps are potentially a very good investment.
(photo credit: Credit:ttsz)