11 Nov Eco news: ground source heat pumps
Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) use pipes that are buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground.
This heat can then be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water in your home. There has been a lot of speculation about the government’s proposals to ban gas boilers in new build homes from 2025. This means that designers are looking for other, innovative ways to heat our homes.
A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe, called a ground loop, which is buried in your garden. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump. As the ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, the heat pump can be used throughout the year. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. However, if space is limited, a vertical borehole can be drilled instead.
What are the benefits of installing a ground source heat pump?
Installing a GSHP could lower your energy bills – who doesn’t like saving a bit of cash? You could gain additional income through the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Furthermore, you could also lower your home’s carbon emissions, depending on which fuel you are replacing. You won’t need to have any fuel deliveries and the GSHP can heat your home and your water with very little maintenance costs.
Air source heat pumps are usually easier to install than ground source heat pumps as they don’t need any trenches or drilling, but they can be less efficient. Water source heat pumps are another consideration. They can be used to provide heating in homes near rivers, streams and lakes. It’s quite exciting to think about the potential of using naturally occurring resources to heat our homes and water.
You can find some stories from homeowners who have installed heat pumps via the Green Homes Network.
Size is an issue
Are wall hung heat pumps the future of home heating systems?
Small homes and low energy homes are the challenge here as rural homes have utilised heat pumps for years. Rural homes often favour heat pumps over oil and liquefied petroleum gas due to the cost saving benefits. One of the reasons why smaller homes are a technical challenge is due to space. Heat source pumps require quite a bit of outside space for the working unit. With many new build homes being built upon rather cramped plots, this may be problematic. These units can also require quite a bit of space on the inside of the home. For this reason, lots of companies are beginning to develop smaller, boiler sized units. This makes them handy for installing in flats as well as small houses. Excitingly, it also means that a number of these units in close proximity could be connected to the same bring loop, allowing for cheaper running costs for the homeowners.
We find the development of heat pumps pretty exciting, we hope you do too!
At Acre Design Newcastle we are passionate about all things green and would love to discuss your project with you in detail.