What are heat pumps?

A heat pump is a device that absorbs heat from one location and transfers it to another. Heat pumps absorb heat out of the air or ground and then upgrade it to a temperature that’s suitable to provide comfortable heating and hot water to almost any building.

Heat pumps are an environmentally friendly alternative to gas and oil boilers and are growing in popularity with home owners, social housing developers and businesses alike. As the UK moves to a carbon-neutral future, heat pumps will be a key contributor in creating clean heat energy.

what are the different types of heat pump systems?

There are different variations of heat pump, but the most common heat pump systems are: ground source heat pumps (GSHP), water source heat pumps (WSHP) and air source heat pumps (ASHP).


Ground source heat pumps


Ground source heat pumps (also known as geothermal heat pumps) absorb naturally stored heat from the earth using a network of pipes laid in either vertical boreholes or horizontal trenches buried in the ground. A water/anti-freeze mixture is fed through the network of pipes, gathering heat and passing it to a compressor, where the temperature is then raised to provide heating and hot water to the property.

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water source heat pumps

Water Source Heat Pump Gif


Water source heat pumps work based on the same principles as ground source heat pumps. A network of pipes will be submerged into a body of water – a nearby lake, river or pond. The natural thermal energy stored in the water is then fed back to the heat pump for the temperature to be raised. In some cases, water source heat pumps can feature an “open loop”, where water is fed directly into the heat pump.

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Air source heat pumps


Air source heat pumps absorb thermal energy that is held in the air outside. Large fans are used to draw in the air, where it then heats a water/anti-freeze mixture passing behind the fan through a finned heat exchanger. Thermal energy absorbs by the refrigerant then passes through a heat pump, where the heat is upgraded to a temperature that provides comfortable heating and hot water for any property.

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what is the cost of installing a heat pump?

When installing a heat pump, there isn’t a simple one-off cost. There are different aspects of the installation that need to be considered and factored into a quote. These include:

  • The size of the property
  • How the property is constructed; what materials it’s made from
  • How well insulated the property is
  • How much space is available at the property both internally and externally
  • Ease of access to the property
  • What methods will be used to distribute heat around the home (e.g. underfloor heating/radiators)

To find out the cost of a heat pump for your property, we recommend getting in touch with us. Whether you have a clear understanding of the renewable heating system you want to install or you’re learning about green technology for the first time, our knowledgeable team will be happy to guide you through the process and provide you with a free, accurate, no-obligation quote for a heat pump system. If you'd like to learn more about the cost of installing a heat pump before you get in touch, you can view our dedicated page which provides estimated based on house size.


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What are the benefts of installing a heat pump?

Installing a heat pump in a building brings a variety of financial and environmental benefits. Unlike conventional boilers, heat pumps don’t require burning fossil fuels to create heat. All the thermal energy produced comes directly from natural, renewable sources. This means property owners can benefit from:

  • Significantly lower energy bills
  • Drastically reduced emissions output
  • Low maintenance, hassle-free heating
  • Consistent, year-round heating – whatever the weather
  • The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) offered by the UK government to subsidise those who want to switch to green energy
  • Heat pumps perfectly compliment energy efficient technologies like underfloor heating and solar PV.
  • An average coefficient of performance (CoP) between 3-4 units. For every 1kWh of electricity used to run a heat pump, approximately 3 to 4kWh of thermal energy is produced.
  • Safer than combustible forms of heating

a successful heat pump system is in the design

The most crucial stage when installing a heat pump is getting the design and measurements correct. If undersized it means your system may not be able to reach your preferred temperature and if oversized the system will be less efficient as it's producing more energy than what's required.

Your brand new renewable heating system should be a custom-made to fit your home perfectly. The design should be carefully thought out, with an accurately sized heat pump as well as careful consideration given to other installation practices such as insulation.

At Thermal Earth we design heat pump systems and factor in elements such as the size of the property, construction materials and carry out heat loss and heat load calculations to ensure we deliver a high-efficiency system. We can often create these calculations using site plans if available or it not we carry out site visits to collect accurate measurements and data.

When installated correctly, a heat pump saves you money on your energy bills and reduces your carbon footprint, all whilst providing comfortable levels of heating and cooling. Our heat pump solutions are compatible with buildings of any size and age. Take a look at some of our Case Studies to see our previous projects.

Maintenance of heat pumps

Once installed, heat pumps require very little attention. Heat pumps are designed to be work in the background with minimal fuss, providing your property with heating and hot water whenever you need it. The only on-going maintenance that’s required from property owners to their heat pump is booking an annual service to ensure all the components are working as they should be and your heat pump system is working to maximum efficiency. Following these guidelines will see your heat pump last between 20 and 30 years.

Heat pump incentives

The installation costs of heat pumps can be quite expensive, but there is help at hand in the form of the Renewable Heat Incentive. RHI is a programme established by the UK government to encourage people to switch to renewable heating and to help shoulder the costs. Previously the RHI was available as two seperate schemes, Domestic and Non Domestic. However the non Domestic scheme which was available for commercial properties came to an end on the 31st March 2021. The Domestic RHI scheme will end on the 31st March 2022 and it's aimed at current home owners and private or social landlords. Domestic RHI is paid out over the course of 7 years and is based on the amount of heat produced by a renewable heating system including heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal.

For more information on the Renewable Heat Incentive, get in touch with us and we’ll guide you through every aspect of the programme including providing an estimate of the return you could see for your property and applying for the scheme online.

More information about heat pumps

Heat pumps are growing in popularity across the UK as we strive to cut our carbon emissions and preserve our planet for future generations. The UK government has a legally binding agreement to ensure the country is carbon neutral by 2050 and has set a target to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028.

To learn more about how feasible it is to have the majority of homes warmed by a heat pump instead of a fossil fuel-burning boiler, look no further than coldest countries in mainland Europe. In Sweden alone, 97% of new housing project use heat pumps as their source of heating.  

videos on the installation of ground source heat pump pipework

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