Ground source heat pumps, by The Energy Saving Trust
Ground source heat pumps use buried pipes to extract heat from the ground, which is then used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems and hot water.
A ground source heat pump circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a ground loop, a loop of pipe. Heat is absorbed into the fluid and then passes through a heat exchanger into the pump. The ground stays at a fairly constant temperature under the surface, so heat pumps can be used throughout the year – even in the middle of winter.
Anyone considering installing a ground source heat pump should consider:
Is your garden suitable for a ground loop? It doesn't have to be particularly big, but the ground needs to be suitable for digging a trench or a borehole and accessible to digging machinery.
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Is your home well insulated? Since ground source heat pumps work best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers, it's essential that your home is well insulated and draught-proofed for the heating system to work.
What fuel will you be replacing? The system will pay for itself much more quickly if it's replacing an electricity or coal heating system. Heat pumps may not be the best option for homes using mains gas.
What type of heating system will you use? Ground source heat pumps can perform better with underfloor heating systems or warm air heating than with radiator-based systems because of the lower water temperatures required.
Is the system intended for a new development? Combining the installation with other building work can reduce costs.
For more information, visit www.energysaving trust.org.uk