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A ground source heat pump can cost between £13,000 and £35,000 to install in your home. The running costs depend on the size of your home and how well insulated it is. The set-up costs of ground source heat pumps are higher than other systems, but the difference is usually compensated by energy savings.
When you are trying to figure out how much a ground source heat pump costs, you need to bear in mind that this also depends on whether any new radiators or a fully new underfloor heating system is required, therefore the price estimations below don’t include any wet system upgrade.
Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are widely known as environmentally friendly investments that can help you save up £790 - £1425 per year on your heating bill when replacing an old electric system.
Despite the high cost compared to conventional heating systems, the Renewable Heat Incentive payments in the UK will help downplay the impact of the high initial price and reduce the running costs of the heat pump.
The RHI payments are earned over the first 20 years of installing ground source heat pumps for commercial use, and over the first 7 years in the case of domestic use. Currently, the RHI tariff for a GSHP are 21.92 pence per kilowatt hour.
The first step in assessing the type of ground source heat pumps is to research the ways of minimising the hot water demand and space heating. It requires accurate energy efficiency measurements, which can be done by obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). It helps to find the heat pumps of the right sizing that will decrease the energy consumption, heat loss, and hot water needs.
Ground source heat pumps are typically more suited to new-builds than retrofits.
There are two different types of loop systems for ground source heat pumps, the open loop system and the closed loop system.
The open loop system extracts groundwater which passes through a heat pump where heat is extracted. The closed loop system draws the heat from the ground itself and uses a continuous loop of piping connected to the indoor heat pump.
Types of closed loop systems are:
The ground source heating system is laid in horizontal trenches that are approximately 1-2 metres deep. It is more common in rural areas where there is more land available. To install the horizontal system, the area required depends on the heating and cooling loads of your home, the depth at which your loop is going to be buried, your soil and its moisture, the climate, and the efficiency of the heat pump. The average 150 m2 home needs an area of between 300 and 700 m2.
The ground source heat pump borehole cost can vary. Vertical boreholes are a more expensive alternative when there is not enough area to lay the pipes horizontally. It is more often the appropriate choice for suburban homes where space is restricted. A hole is dug at least 6m into the ground for insulation and the total piping will be 50-150 m deep depending on the composition of the ground and the heat requirement of your home.
Although less common than horizontal or vertical systems, a closed pond loop is also an option. It is uncommon because it requires proximity to a body of water, so an open loop system is usually preferable. It may be advantageous when poor water quality prevents the use of an open loop.
Costs vary whether you set up a vertical or a horizontal system. There is a significant difference in groundwork costs between horizontal and vertical systems. Although the horizontal installation is cheaper, it requires a minimum of ½ an acre of land.
|Number of Rooms||Heat Pump and Installation Cost||Horizontal Groundwork Cost||Vertical Groundwork Cost|
The costs depend on each individual case and numbers do not represent actual offers. They are merely for general reference.
House size and building requirements will determine whether a vertical or horizontal loop system is needed. The first step is the excavation of the loop fields.To install a vertical ground source heat pump, the loop is placed in the drilled well that is dug deep 50-150m the ground. The heat exchanger is then installed in order to capture the heat from the ground.
For horizontal installation, a large area of land is dug up so that the loops can be placed on the land without having to dig deep into the earth.
Horizontal GSHPs require large space, as for an average family household, around 600 meters of loops need to be laid in the ground, which would total to around 700 m2 to dig up. To save space, some decide to lay the pipes in many loops (figuratively called 'slinkies') which, however, reduces efficiency somewhat.
Vertical systems do not require as much surface area, as boreholes are dug vertically into the ground. The depth of the borehole depends on the system size; an 8kW ground source heat pump system would require approximately three boreholes.
Once planning, preparation, and getting the necessary permissions are done, the groundwork and laying the piping system usually takes 3 or 5 days. Depending on the geological conditions, the installation might require 3-5 days in case of a borehole GSHP. Finally, the heat pump device itself needs to be installed and connected to your heat distribution infrastructure. Each project is unique in their own right so timescales will tend to differ from job to job.
It is important to note that special planning permissions are required in Wales and Northern Ireland, and in England and Scotland permissions depend on your location and the size of your property.
For every kW of electricity consumed by the heat pump, around 3-4 kW’s of heat is generated in return. This means, a GSHP has, on average, a Coefficient of Performance (COP) of 3.5 to 4.5.GSHP systems save energy by using the constant temperature of the ground to increase the seasonal efficiency of home heating. The source of heat used for ground source heat pumps is the sun, as it heats up the ground water resulting in the stable temperature of the Earth’s floor.
The type of soil also affects the efficiency of ground source heat pumps. The thermal properties of soil in the UK varies a lot by region, therefore, to get an accurate estimation of efficiency, it's important to get your specific property assessed by a professional.
Heat pump's external pipelines are inserted in the soil which keeps its temperature below 1 meter relatively stable all year round. For this reason, cold weather is not likely to affect your heat pump's efficiency significantly, and even less so if you have a vertical GSHP.
Ground pump systems reach rather high-performance coefficients, with the average between 3 and 4. The Coefficient of Performance is found by dividing the useful heat output by the electrical energy input.
A ground source heat pump that transfers 4 kilowatts of heat from the ground for 1 kilowatt of electricity has a COP of 4. We recommend you check out the seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP), as it is a more accurate representation of the efficiency during different times of the year, compared to the COP.
While the COP is the performance delivered at a specific moment, the SCOP will provide an average for the whole year, giving a more trustworthy figure.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need several acres of land to install a heat pump. Even a modest garden can be used to benefit from the Earth’s heat. The main thing to consider is access for borehole drilling rigs & equipment. There are many advantages of heat pumps that you can enjoy when you install one. And, as with any type of installation, there are also disadvantages to keep in mind:
One of the most energy-efficient water heating systems
Low maintenance and low running costs
Less noise than gas boilers and air source heat pumps
Low environmental impact
Longer lifespan of components compared to air source heat pumps
High up-front costs
Dependent on the type of bedrock
Space requirement for horizontal systems
Not ideal for retrofits, as they are better suited for new builds unless UFH throughout already in place or being installed
With incentives available from the UK government, saving money on heat pumps has never been easier. Currently, the Renewable Heating Incentive pays 21.17 p/kWh of energy generated by ground source heat pumps.
Payments are made on a quarterly basis over seven years. Several funds you receive will depend on a number of factors - including the technology you install, the latest tariffs available for each heating solution and, in some cases, metering.
The Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) aims to compensate for the costs of ground source heat pumps installations in commercial applications. The business owners and social housing providers benefit from a quick payback and long-term rate of return. In addition, the UK Government financial support gives an opportunity for retrofit installations and new houses to get modernised.
The RHI is expected to close in 2022, with a new grant expected to take over. This new grant is called the Clean Homes Grant, and unlike the RHI, will be an installation grant. This grant scheme is anticipated to come into effect in April 2022.
Another type of grants is the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This grant imposes legal obligations on energy suppliers to carry on energy efficiency measures. The main focus is on three different areas: Home Heating Cost Reduction Obligation, Community Obligation and Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation.
Finally, you could get a reduction in VAT on your ground source heat pump. If you are over 60 years old or receive income or disability benefits, you could receive a 5% tax reduction. Depending on the costs, you can either get a discount on the whole product or only on the installation.