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Ground Source Heat Pumps


Ground source heat pumps will provide hot water and heating for properties, from homes to commercial properties, in one of the most efficient and cleanest ways to produce thermal energy.

The ideal design of a ground source heat pump is dependant on the area surrounding a property. The cheapest method for installing ground source heat pumps is by creating a horizontal loop, which requires a large surface area of land (approximately 2.5 times the square meterage of the house, on average). If there isn’t enough land available, the alternative would be to create a vertical closed-loop system. Both offer similar levels of efficiency and each design has its own individual advantages. A ground source heat pump will absorb a constant level of geothermal heat, stored in ground water, to produce the thermal energy used for heating and hot water.

Ground source heat pumps are run using electricity. For every 1kW of electricity used to operate a heat pump, 3kW to 5kW of heat energy is produced and available on demand for heating.

A ground source heat pump provides a clean way to heat homes and buildings, free of all carbon emissions and other pollutants. By making use of the solar energy stored in the ground, ground source heat pumps are able to provide one of the most energy-efficient ways of heating homes and commercial buildings. Solar re-charge of the ground is an important part of ground source energy which is utilised to increase the efficiency of ground source heat pumps.


Ground source heat pumps work for a wide variety of homes and commercial buildings and are particularly appropriate for projects where low environmental impact is important.

Heat pumps can be installed anywhere in the UK. They can be installed by digging out shallow trenches and laying coiled pipes in a horizontal fashion, or by creating a vertical borehole and creating a closed-loop system. It's also possible to lay what is known as a water source heat pump, which absorbs heat from a nearby water resource, such as a pond, a lake or even the sea. Heat-collecting pipes in a closed loop, containing water mixed with a small amount of antifreeze extract, absorb and store the heat from natural sources. After being compressed, this stored energy is then at a temperature where it's possible to be used to provide general area heating and domestic hot water.

Ground source heat pumps are incredibly versatile as they can also be reversed during the summer months to provide cooling.

The only energy used by a ground source heat pump is electricity to power the compressor and the circulation pumps which transfer heat energy from the ground into the building. A well designed ground source heat pump installation will deliver three or four times as much thermal energy (heat) as is used in electrical energy to drive the system. For a particularly environmental solution, green electricity can be purchased.

Ground source heat pumps have been widely adopted across North America, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland for many years. Typically, they do cost more to install than conventional heating systems, however, that initial cost is recouped because ground source heat pumps have very low maintenance costs and can be expected to provide safe, reliable and emission-free heating for well over 20 years.

Ground source heat pumps work best with heating systems which are optimised to run at a lower water delivery temperature than is commonly used in radiator systems. As such, they make an ideal partner for underfloor heating systems.


How do ground source heat pumps work?

Ground source heat pumps work by absorbing natural heat from the ground and transferring the heat into homes or commercial buildings to provide heating for rooms and water in the buildings without burning any fossil fuels.

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How to install ground source heat pumps

Planning your ground source heat pump installation is an important step. Learn more here.

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Savings from ground source heat pumps

Ground Source heat pumps can make significant savings as well as being extremely efficient and low on carbon emissions.

What savings


Our society has become increasingly dependent on fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. These are finite resources, having been created by natural processes over millions of years. Burning them to produce energy results in emissions of 'greenhouse gases', including carbon dioxide (CO2). These gases trap solar radiation in the earth's atmosphere and cause undesirable changes in the climate. Home energy use is responsible for over a quarter of UK CO2 emissions which contribute to climate change.

To help mitigate the effects of climate change, the Energy Saving Trust has a range of technical solutions to help UK housing professionals build to higher levels of energy efficiency. This page gives specifiers and advisors more information about ground source heat pumps (GSHP) in dwellings. It covers the different types of system, and the benefits, limitations, costs and suitability of the various technologies. It can also help housing professionals to meet the energy efficiency requirements of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Despite their increasing use elsewhere, ground source heat pumps are a relatively unfamiliar technology in the UK. But their performance is now such that, if properly designed and installed, they represent a very carbon-efficient form of space heating. ground source heat pumps can be used to provide space and domestic water heating and, if required, space cooling to a wide range of building types and sizes. But the provision of cooling by ground source heat pumps in addition to heating will result in increased energy consumption however efficiently it is supplied.

Ground source heat pumps are particularly suitable for new build as the technology is most efficient when used to supply low temperature distribution systems, such as underfloor heating. Ground source heat pumps can also be used for retrofit, especially in conjunction with measures to reduce heat demand. Ground source heat pumps can be particularly cost effective in areas where mains gas is not available, or in developments where there is an advantage to simplifying the infrastructure provided.

Ground Source Heat Pumps concentrate on the provision of space and water heating to individual dwellings, but ground source heat pumps can also be applied to blocks of flats or groups of houses To maximise the efficiency of a heat pump when providing heating, it is important to not only have a low heating distribution temperature, but also as high a source temperature as possible. Overall efficiencies for ground source heat pumps are inherently higher than for air source heat pumps, because ground temperatures are higher than the mean air temperature in winter and lower in summer.

The ground temperature also remains relatively stable, allowing the ground source heat pump to operate close to its optimal design point. Air temperatures, however, vary both throughout the day and seasonally, and are lowest at times of peak heating demand. Air has a lower specific heat capacity than water, so to supply the same energy more air must be supplied to the heat pump, which in turn requires more energy. For ground source heat pumps using ambient air as the source, the evaporator coil is also likely to need defrosting at low temperatures.

For well-designed ground source heat pump systems, used to supply low temperature, water-based heating systems (e.g. underfloor heating), seasonal efficiencies of between 300 and 400 per cent are common for indirect systems, and can be higher (350 to 500 per cent) for direct expansion systems. By comparison the seasonal efficiency of an air source heat pump system is about 250 per cent, although there is technical potential to increase this.

The seasonal efficiency is the ratio of the energy delivered from the ground source heat pump to the total energy supplied to it, measured over a year or heating season (including energy demands for circulation, e.g. to circulate fluid round the ground heat exchanger). The high seasonal efficiency of ground source heat pump systems reduces the demand for purchased electricity, and the associated emissions of CO2 and other pollutants. Figure 2 shows the relationship between utilisation efficiency and CO2 emissions for different domestic fuels.


Ground source heat pump systems

We offer a comprehensive range of Ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and water source heat pumps to suit all installations for domestic homes and commercial properties.



Thermal Earth Ltd
Unit B1 Capel Hendre Industrial Estate
SA18 3SJ

Tel: +44(0)1269 833100

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