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How much do ground source heat pumps cost to install?

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) have estimated that a ground source heat pump may cost anything between £10,000 - £18,000. This estimate may seem very broad, but there are several factors to take into consideration that may affect the overall cost. Find out how much a ground source heat pump will cost; how much this system could potentially save you on your heating costs and how to make money back on your investment.

A ground source heat pump, or geothermal heat pump, is an energy-saving central heating or cooling system that transmits heat to or from the ground. Since the first ground source heat pump was built in the late 1940s, the popularity of the systems has risen enormously. As of the last decade, there were more than a million ground source heat pumps installed across the globe. With the rising popularity of ground source heat pumps in the USA and various European countries, finding out how much the cost of the system and whether they are worth the cost is increasingly important.

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What factors affect ground source heat pump costs?

It depends on the house

Firstly, the house the system is being built into has an impact. Ground source heat pumps are more energy efficient when running in a well-insulated house. This means that the house can use a smaller pump and doesn’t need as much ground to be into, meaning less electricity is used and in the long run reduces running costs. 

What is the size of the house?

The size of the house is also a factor, as this determines the amount of heat that is needed to warm up the house. A larger house is going to require more underground piping, meaning more money being spent on the installation. 

What type of garden do you have?

The type of the garden the ground source heat pump is being installed into also must be taken into consideration and the size of the garden can determine whether a horizontal or vertical array is used. A horizontal array is a pipe which is laid in a trench around 1.2m deep and this method doesn’t always require a larger garden but does need suitable ground for it to be built into.

A vertical array or a borehole system is several boreholes drilled into the ground and are all connected across the top. The number of boreholes is determined by the size of the ground source heat pump being installed, as well as the depth. This method does not require much land and would be a good option for smaller gardens, of course if the excavation machinery can manoeuvre around the garden space. 

Ground source heat pumps will always be fitted by specialists, and they will determine the best method of installation as all properties have different requirements. The best thing to do is to fill out the form below and get a ground source heat pump cost comparison in your local area. 


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How much money will ground source heat pumps save?

Like most energy-saving technology, in the long run you will save money. In terms of ground source heat pumps, how much money you will save can depend on what system you are currently using and what system you are replacing your old one with. The older the boiler being replaced; the more money will be saved.

  • If you were looking at replacing your gas boiler with a new ground source heat pump, you would be looking at savings between £175 - £535 a year.
  • Replacing oil boilers would save you between £260 - £805 a year. The big savings, though, come in the form of electric and LPG boilers.
  • Replacing these with a ground source heat pump would leave you up to £1400 a year better off. Electric boilers are an energy-efficient way of heating your house, but unfortunately, come with a higher cost than other gas or oil boilers. Ground source heat pumps would keep your house warm in an energy-efficient way, while also saving you money in the long term. 

How do ground source heat pumps work?

Discover all the information you need about the pros and cons of ground source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps are an energy-efficient method of heating up your home. This guide will explain reasons why it may or may not be beneficial to have one in your home.  

Ground source heat pumps heat up buildings using piping that is buried underground. Solar energy from the sun enter the ground, keeping the temperature of the ground at around 11 degrees Celsius. These pipes then extract the solar energy as well as the internal heat of the earth and is converted into heat, which is then used to warm up the home and provide hot water. Electricity does need to be used to pump the heat around the home, but it can produce around 3 – 4 units of heat for every unit of electricity used.  

Ground Source Heat Pump Benefits

Government Grants

To encourage the public to choose more energy-efficient forms of technology to reduce the countries carbon footprint and reduce the contribution towards negative climate change, the Government has introduced the Renewal Heat Incentive (RHI) which rewards people for choosing greener energy sources, such as heat pumps.

The Government reimburses individuals of up to £3000 for installing renewable heat-generating technology which, once the electricity used to run the heat pump has been paid for, could be anything from £2000 profit. Overall, you could save between £400 - £800 a month on heating bills making heat pumps both a cheaper option to run than gas, electric, and oil boilers.

Reduces Carbon Footprint

Another benefit of a ground source heat pump is that it adds value to your home because it reduces your carbon footprint and your home will be considered as more eco-friendly making it more desirable to buyers. For this reason, your local authorities are less likely to give you any problems with installing a GSHP and, in most cases, you don’t need planning permission beforehand. Although ground source heat pumps are better suited to new build-properties, because they tend to already have underfloor heating, insulation, draft-proofing and potentially a heat pump already installed, if you want to upgrade your existing home with a GSHP, the Governments RHI scheme can be put towards compensating for the cost of the substitution of your old heating system with the GSHP. 

More energy efficient than air source alternatives

Ground source heat pumps are more efficient than air-source heat pumps and can be automated to reduce the amount of work required to keep it running, which is minimal anyway. They produce 70% less carbon emissions; the 30% remaining can be reduced to 0 carbon emissions if the electrical energy that you use is from a renewable energy source. For this reason, it is considered a much safer source of energy as no dangerous gases are released into the atmosphere and there is no combustion involved when they are running.

The low-to-zero carbon emissions are liked by planning authorities because they are safe, silent, invisible and extremely environmentally friendly. In fact, to install a GSHP planning permission isn’t required. The only thing that you need to consider is the amount of space in your garden that you. Not only do you need enough space for the heat pump, but you also need space for the machinery that will be used to install it.

Ground Source Heat pump drawbacks

Initial Costs

Although heat pumps qualify for the Government’s RHI, the initial purchase and installation of heat pumps are costly. Heat pumps prices range from £8,000 - £10,000 depending on the type of heat pump and their manufacturer; installation can range between £10,000 - £18,000, plus the monthly or annual cost of the electricity needed to run the heat pump. Furthermore, ground source heat pumps are more expensive to install than air-source heat pumps due to the amount of digging required to install them.

These numbers all look quite high, but it is important to remember that the money reimbursed from the Governments RHI can be used to pay the electricity bill needed to run the ground source heat pump. Also, once installed no fuel is needed to run it and no maintenance is needed to keep it running efficiently. Considering the life span is a minimum of at least 20 – 30 years you can quickly make a profit from it, making it a worthwhile long-term investment.

Not effective with poor insulation 

A well-insulated, draft-proof house is needed to create the most optimal condition to get the benefits of a ground source heat pump. Underfloor heating is considered as one of the best options to retain the heat produced by the heat pump. This is because the pipes run under the floors so they can reach and heat up large surface areas quickly (ground source heat pumps heat water in the pipes using heat in the ground). T

o test the efficiency of a heat pump we use the Coefficient of Performance as an indicator; a CoP of 4 or above indicates a high level of efficiency. This can be tested prior to purchase and installation. A limitation to this is that the CoP may be lower than the test condition that after installation. To overcome this limitation, individuals can integrate a Thermal Bank with their ground source heat pump to reach a higher CoP. The thermal heat bank retains excess heat energy in warmer temperatures so that it can be used in colder temperatures, allowing the desired level of heat to be reached faster, therefore improving the heat pump coefficient of performance.

Space restrictions

One of the unfortunate things about ground source heat pumps is that you need enough space to install them, both for the machinery to install them and the heat pump itself. There needs to be enough space for the machinery to dig a large enough space in your garden to for the heat pump, and the heat pump itself need 2m in-depth, for the pipes to be installed underground with water flowing, and the length of the heat pump you choose in your back garden.

In smaller back gardens where there isn’t enough space for this, an alternative option is to dig downwards 100m so that the pipes can be installed downwards instead of upwards, but you would still need the space for the machinery. These are the minimum requirements for a ground source heat pump to be installed, otherwise, it is unlikely that you would be able to have one. The key is to ensure that you discuss your options with an expert who is also well informed on your local geology. The grounds heat movement in your area, and the heating and cooling requirements of the building.

Are they energy-efficient and environmentally friendly?

In terms of energy efficiency, a ground source heat pump is great and you can see why it is being increasingly implemented into new builds in the USA and a multitude of European countries, especially if you compare it to using a standard gas or oil boiler for example. But there are some issues which come along with the installation and the actual ground source heat pump system itself.  

Firstly, the building which the ground source heat pump is being built into must have the required space, usually in the garden area. The underground piping can be laid in what is called a “horizontal” or “vertical array”. The horizontal array being pipes laid into a 1.2m deep trench and the vertical array being the pipes laid into a borehole which is drilled around 70m – 100m into the ground and connected at the top.

The size and type of array which is built all depends on the size of the ground source heat pump which is being installed. For smaller gardens, a vertical array will suffice, but this is assuming that the machinery and equipment required to dig the holes are able to fit inside the garden area. Borehole digging can also be a relatively expensive operation and prices vary depending on the location of the property around the country. 

The piping which is connected to the ground source heat pump also has environmental impacts. The piping system is filled with refrigerants, and due to them being toxic and flammable, they can pose a threat to the environment. Thankfully, these threats can be minimalised through correctly fitted systems, as this will reduce the potential of leakage. New blends of refrigerant with minimal negative impacts are being developed to help prevent environmental damage. Specialist installers are vital and thankfully readily available for the installation of ground source heat pumps and they will provide you with all the information, advice, and expertise required. 

Are ground source heat pumps cost effective?

A great reason to install a ground source heat pump into your home is the fact that it will save you money on your heating costs. The older the boiler, which is being replaced, the greater the saving. If you were to be replacing an old oil or gas boiler with a ground source heat pump, you would be looking at savings of up to £665 a year. The amount goes up into the £1000s if you are replacing an old electric or LPG boiler. The savings a ground source heat pump will create do sound appealing, but they do come with a price.

Calculating the price of installation can be quite intricate, as the size and type of the ground source heat pump required differs depending on the property it is being built into. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) came to an estimate of around £10,000 - £18,000 to have a ground source heat pump built into your home. To a large amount of people, this is a huge and unrealistic investment putting one of these systems into the home. But that is what it is, an investment. In the long term, having a ground source heat pump installed into your home can provide you with a profit, especially when considering the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which was implemented by the UK Government in 2014. 

Ground source heat pumps comes with there pros and cons. Installing one of these systems in your home will provide you not only with savings on your heating costs, but you will potentially profit in the long term. 

Can I save on costs with a government grant?

Owning a ground source heat pump in your house means that you qualify for the renewable heat incentive (RHI), which was a scheme set up by the government in 2014. They created this incentive to try to encourage people to invest in renewable heat technologies in their home in return for financial incentives. If the ground source heat pump is for domestic use, you can receive payments for a seven-year period. Whereas if it is for commercial use it can be earned for 20 years.

The UK government had a target of 12% of heating in the country coming from renewable sources by 2020 and is expecting the RHI to contribute to that. The amount which can be earned is dependant on the size and use of the ground source heat pump of course, but to get money back in return for owning one of these systems is certainly a bonus. 

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