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Ground source heat pumps harness solar energy captured by the ground. The heat is transferred via a network of pipes buried under the surface of your garden or by using a series of vertical boreholes up to 100m deep. This heat is then used to power a buildings heating system. The temperature below the surface remains pretty constant throughout the year meaning that the GSHP system can be used year round. The pipe network which is often referred to as a ground loop or a ground array is laid approx. 1.2m under the surface and is filled with a mixture of antifreeze and water. This ground loop then absorbs solar energy stored in the ground heat is then extracted by using expression and contraction technology, this energy is then fed in through your heating system. The amount of heat your GSHP generates depends on the length of your ground loop, if you have a larger home to heat then you will need a larger ground loop. If space is of a premium another option may be to drill a vertical borehole, the deeper the borehole the more heat energy will be available. Typically an 8kW ground source heat pump would require 3 vertical boreholes of depths between 70-100m. These heat pumps can be connected to your underfloor heating system and controlled by modern smart thermostats.
Air source heat pumps use renewable heat energy extracted from the air outside and use this warm air to heat your home. Although the system uses electricity it is still a very green source of renewable heat energy. These air source pumps work exceptionally well with underfloor heating due to the low input temperature needed for underfloor heating. Some benefits of using air source heat pumps are lower energy bills, barely any maintenance and upkeep, they can heat your home and water and there is even a government scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive which offers quarterly cash payments to homeowners who install and use this type of system. (Full details are available on the gov.uk website.) Air source pumps are also simpler to install than ground source pumps as the installation doesn’t involve digging and laying metres of piping. If you are looking for other way to make your home more eco-friendly and energy efficient you can read more here.
Ground source heat pumps and underfloor heating go hand in hand, not only are they both extremely energy efficient methods of generating heat and warmth but they also work on a similar level of heat input. Radiators have a relatively small surface area in comparison to the rooms they are required to heat, to compensate for that they need to generate a lot of heat to warm the room. Underfloor heating systems, by contrast, have a much much larger heating surface area, the entire floor plan of the room. This combined with the use of radiant heat vs the convection heat generated by radiators means that an underfloor heating system can operate as effectively at a much lower heat level.
A ground source heat pump harnesses the heat already being generated by the earth, meaning that they do not draw down from the national grid, or gas network, so no more high heating bills. Not only is a ground source/underfloor heating system more effective at heating your home it is a much, much greener and economic method of generating heat. If you are an environmentally conscious kind of person looking to reduce your carbon footprint this could be a great option for you to consider.
It is worth noting that the upfront cost of setting up a GSHP system can be quite prohibitive, with prices ranging anywhere between £10K-£18K, the commonly accepted budget figure is £1200 per kW capacity. These costs are paid back over a number of years through drastically reduced energy bill as well as potential subsidies given out by the government. It is a lot easier to incorporate a ground source heat pump into your home at the design phase which is why they are most common in new build homes. It is also important to ensure that your home is well insulated to stop heat escaping, and while the ground loop tends to come with a warranty of 2-3 years they should last you 20+ years.
If you have questions about this or anything else relating to underfloor heating feel free to pick up the phone and give us a call, we will be happy to help 0800 232 1501.
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