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Cost of Ground Source Heat Pump

The average cost of a ground source heat pump is between £10,000 – £21,000 with installation. However, this price can increase significantly where the size of your home increases.

2 Rooms £10,000 – £16,000
4 Rooms £16,000 – £21,000
6 Rooms £21,000 – £36,000
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How much does a Ground Source Heat Pump Cost?

Somewhere between £10,000£21,000 with installation. We go into much more detail with all the facts you need to know below.

As environmental advocates place more attention on the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and the United Kingdom moves toward its goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, British homeowners have started to consider alternative means to heat their homes. An environmentally friendly method that has come to light in recent years is ground source heat pump heating. If you have considered switching from another heating source to ground source heat pump heating, our definitive guide will help you make an informed decision about buying, installing, and maintaining one of these systems.

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What is Ground Source Heat Pump Heating?

Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) are a highly effective means for extracting heat from the ground to warm a building. These systems take the consistent warmth that sits a few feet below the earth’s surface and pump it into your home.

They can extract heat for any temperature, even when it is cold, although warmer ground temperatures result in better performance. These systems may be easily installed in your backyard.

How Does Ground Source Heating Work?

Ground source heating differs from other geothermal energy technologies as these systems acquire heat through direct conduction. Think of it as a fridge. The pump transfers heat from one space to another. Just a few metres below the frost line, the ground temperature stays constant all year long, usually ranging from 8-12°C. A loop of pipe, buried either horizontally or vertically, works as a heat exchanger to acquire this heat. This loop contains either water or a water-antifreeze mixture. The pump transfers this solution to a compressor where it is heated and then transported to your home’s wet central heating, including radiators, showers, taps, and underfloor heating.

Although a GSHP system uses electricity to operate, the idea is it will use less electrical energy than the heat produced. Simultaneously, the pump performs the same role as a boiler, but instead of using fossil fuels to generate heat, it uses ambient heat from the ground.

Ground Source Vs. Gas Central Heating

About 85% of UK homes use gas boilers for central heating. Ground source heat pumps are inherently more cost-efficient than boilers because the latter requires the transportation and combustion of fossil fuels. In addition, a GSHP produces less carbon dioxide emissions during system operation as gas combustion releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A heat pump, on the other hand, uses an electrical power source. While there is some fossil fuel usage through the electricity that powers the GSHP system, the carbon emissions produced by the electricity used to run the heat pump are far less than the overall carbon emissions output produced by a gas boiler. Typical emissions from a gas boiler are 226g/kWh, amounting to 2.7 tonnes per year for an average home. A ground source heat pump incurs only 53g/kWh in carbon emissions, giving it an incredible 77% savings on emission versus gas.

While modern gas boilers are about 90% efficient, that comes nowhere near heat pump efficiency, ranging between 300% and 400%. You’ll actually give back or store the electricity needed to produce heating in your home.

Upfront gas boiler installation costs are much less expensive as most homeowners generally pay between £1,500-£2,500 for a boiler. The capital outlay for GSHP systems is considerably higher, starting at £10,000£15,000, and increasing from there. As installations increase in line with the government’s ambition to have 600,000 new heat pumps running each year by 2028, consumers can expect to see significant price drops for heat pumps themselves and the ground arrays.

Ground Source vs Geothermal Heating

Although both ground source geothermal heating harness energy from the ground, there are considerable differences between the two technologies.
Geothermal energy is produced by creating a deep borehole about 500 and 2,500 metres underground filled with water and then naturally heated by the hot rock. This water produces vapour used to drive turbines and create electricity.

For countries like Iceland, where the geothermal activity is close to the earth’s surface, extracting and using geothermal energy is less complex and more cost-effective. However, geothermal energy is harnessed by large plants and is not used for small communities.

GSHP is a more realistic option for a domestic home heating system. Although they require a relatively significant investment to install, they will save homeowners money in the long run. In addition, as the popularity of heat pumps continues to increase, the initial cost is expected to decrease due to decreased manufacturing and other upfront costs. Heat pumps also have a relatively minor annual maintenance cost of about £250-£350, which is more expensive than the cost of a gas boiler service. Those interested in geothermal systems will find that they currently have about the same upfront price if this type of technology is feasible for your area.

Geothermal system

  • Life:  25 years to 50 years
  • Electricity usage:  25% to 50% less than conventional boiler
  • Upfront cost:  £2,672 – £11,586

Heat pump

  • Life:  15 years
  • Electricity usage:  25 to 50% more than a geothermal system
  • Upfront cost:  £2,882 – £7,400

Best Ground Source Heating Brands

Kensa, Nibe, Viessmann, Vaillant, Mitsubishi and Worcester Bosch make the best ground source heat pumps for UK residents, all of which will lower your heating bill along with your carbon footprint.  Consider these below factors when finding the best GSHP for your home:

  • Output rating
  • Unit dimensions
  • Warranty length
  • Efficiency rating
  • Potential Cost
  • Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified
Exterior House Painting Material Costs & Prices
Heating Brand Model Energy Efficiency Rating Outputs Available (kW) Cost Range
Kensa Evo A++ 7, 9, 13, 17 £8,000 – £12,500
Nibe Nibe F1145 A+++(17kW – A++) 5 – 17 £9,000 – £10,500
Viessman Vitocal 222-G A++ 6.1 – 10.0 £6,000 – £7,500
Vaillant geoTHERM A++ 22, 30, 38, 46 £8,000 – £12,500
Worcester Bosch Greenstore 6 System A+ 6, 7, 9, 11 £4,500 – £8,500
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Ground Source Heating – Will there be a Choice?

The UK’s net-zero carbon emissions target is legally binding, so gas boilers are being phased out. From 2025 onward, gas boilers will no longer be a choice for new construction. However, by 2035, the UK is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 75%, meaning that many gas boilers installed today will require replacement by other more eco-friendly alternatives. By the mid-2030s, homeowners may find that they may be prohibited by law from replacing their current gas boilers with new ones.

Costs and Pricing of Ground Source Heating

As we have previously noted, the upfront costs of ground source heating are considerably more than those of gas boilers. This next section will try to make sense of what you will face should you decide to take the plunge.

How Much Does Ground Source Heating Cost for Your House?

Condensing boiler technology has allowed gas boiler efficiency to come a long way over the past two decades. Yet, as with most fossil fuel technologies, some heat will be lost to keep your home warm. Most gas boilers run at a maximum efficiency of about 94%. That means that every £1 you spend to heat, 6p will fly out of the flue.

Heat pumps have an efficiency of 300% to 400%, which means you will receive three to four times more heat, which you can store for every kilowatt (kW) of electricity used. One drawback is that electricity is more expensive than natural gas.

What is the average cost of ground source heating for your home in the UK?

Electricity rates are approximately 16.36p per kW, almost four times higher than that for natural gas. Average UK homes use 12,000 kilowatt-hours annually for heating, working out to an average of £654.40. The Energy Saving Trust (EST) indicates that a ground source heat pump with an average output could save up to £1,400 annually. Switchcraft notes that average gas bills are £572 per year for the same energy usage, only working out to a difference of about £80 per year. While that figure may not seem like much, homeowners could get more earnings through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which we will discuss later.

The running costs of a ground source heat pump are minimal. For an average UK home, the running costs are typically around £650. This is just an estimate, of course. Aside from annual servicing, which costs between £250 to £300, very little maintenance is required.

Annual Heating and Running Costs & Prices
Heating System 1 Bedroom 2-3 Bedrooms 4+ Bedrooms
Approx Annual Heat Demand 8,000 kWh 12,000 kWh 17,000 kWh
Gas £305 £455 £645
Electricity £1,150 £1,725 £2,440
Oil £325 £490 £690
LPG £525 £785 £1,110
Coal £325 £485 £685
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Ground Source Heat Pump Cost

Ground Source Heat Pump Heating Systems

Depending on the size and brand, a basic ground source heat pump will cost £2,000 to £15,000. High-end heat pumps with better quality components and onboard software for controlling and monitoring operations, along with more costly alloys used in construction, can be considerably more expensive. Owners of a 200-square-metre, four-bedroom home built to Building Regulations standard can expect to buy an 8kW heat pump at a cost of about £6,000 to £7,000.

Ground Source Heat Pump Suppliers and Installation Cost

Installation is expensive, ranging from £10,000£18,000, depending on the system size. That figure does not include the cost of underfloor heating if needed. Other factors that can drive up the cost include groundworks for the trench, planning permission if you need a borehole for a vertical array, which is more expensive, instead of a horizontal array.

Retrofitting a property with existing gas central heating is generally tricky as these systems work better with underfloor heating or very large radiators. Overall installation costs can increase dramatically with replacing radiators and fitting additional insulation to improve your home’s fabric so a GSHP can become a viable option. Also, note that you may also need a separate heater to meet all of your hot water needs, and you may incur a cost to remove the existing boiler. These additional costs can increase initial installation costs to £35,000 and more.

Ground Source Heat Pump and Installation Costs
No of Rooms Heat Pump inc Installation Cost Horizontal Heat Pump Cost Vertical Heat Pump Cost
2 £16,000 £3,000 £6,000
4 £21,000 £5,000 £13,000
6 £32,000 £8,000 £20,000
7+ £42,000 £12,000 £30,000
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Ground Source Heat Pump Running Costs Compared to Conventional Gas Central Heating

Even though the cost of gas fluctuates due to market factors, gas heating has long been recognised as a cheap heat source. Heat pumps compare favourably with gas, yet the running costs of GSHP are expected to drop with the adoption of smart controls and time-of-us tariffs so that the pumps run automatically when electricity is low in cost. The latter usually occurs in conjunction with renewable electricity production from solar and wind.

Smart controls can deliver savings of up to 25% compared to standard ground source systems as they learn your heatingpreferences to devise a customised heating schedule that provides optimised comfort whilst saving money. All this means is that ground source heating will become cheaper than gas, making it a win-win situation for you and the environment. You can increase savings even more if you use a hat battery to store gathered heat and use it when required.

Lifetime costs are also cheaper. Boilers require replacement every 10 to 15 years. Ground source heat pumps typically last 25 years, and the ground array pipework will last for 100 years, saving money over several generations. If you disconnect your property entirely from gas, you’ll save the gas standing charge.


Factors Affecting the Cost of Ground Source Heat Pump Installation

Installing a GSHP system is not a do-it-yourself as you must use a qualified (certified) contractor to set it up. Factors such as the geology, hydrology and spatial characteristics of your land will determine the best type of ground loop for your system, which in turn affect your upfront cost.

Geology

The composition of soil and rock affects heat transfer rates. If your soil has good heat transfer properties, you’ll need less piping. Areas with extensive hard rock or soil that is too shallow for trenching may install vertical ground loops instead of horizontal ones.

Hydrology

Depth, volume and quality of ground or surface water determine whether it may be used as a source for open-loop systems if all groundwater discharge regulations are met. Make sure your provider has thoroughly investigated your property’s hydrology before selecting an open-loop system to avoid problems with aquifer depletion and groundwater contamination. Antifreeze that circulates through closed-loop systems rarely poses an environmental hazard.

Land Availability

Your land’s layout, how much property you have, landscaping and the location of underground utilities will also contribute to system design. Horizontal loops are more economical. Vertical loops are usually used for existing buildings or small spaces to minimise land disruption.

Timescale for Installation of Ground Source Heating

Whereas a replacement boiler takes only a day to install, the timescale for installing a new GSHP system is six to eight weeks. Here is what you can expect.

  • Permits and Design |  2-3 weeks
  • Drilling |  3-5 days
  • Trenching |  1-2 days
  • Piping connections |  2-5 days
  • Duct modification/installation |  1-2 weeks
  • Electrical connections |  2-3 days
  • Thermostat, zoning control and startup |  1 day

Grants and Discounts for Ground Source Heat Pump Systems in the UK

Incentives available from the UK government make buying and installing a ground source heat pump system more attractive. Anyone installing a GSHP system through March 2022 can receive the Renewable Heat Incentive, which pays 21.17 per kWh of energy generated by ground source heat pumps. Homeowners receive payments quarterly over seven years, which can add up to as much as £26,000 over that period. The funds you receive depend on several factors, including the technology installed, the latest tariffs available, and sometimes metering.

From April 2022, the Clean Heat Grant will replace the RHI. This grant will help homeowners with the upfront costs, making heat pumps more affordable. However, only 90,000 households can claim the £5,000 grant. To receive it, you must have an Energy Performance Certificate that is less than ten years old.

Another option is the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This grant requires energy suppliers to carry on energy efficiency measures in home heating cost reduction obligations.

If you are over 60 years old or receive income or disability benefits, you could receive a 5% VAT tax reduction. This discount is available on the entire product or only on the installation, depending on costs.

Planning Permission or Building Regulations of Note

Most GSHP installations do not require planning permission. Homeowners in Wales and Northern Ireland must obtain special planning permissions. However, if your building is listed or in a conservation area, it’s wise to visit your local council before starting the project.


Ground Source Heat Pump FAQ

Q. How much space do I need for a ground source heat pump?

A. Horizontal systems require a large space. An average household needs 600 metres of loops, requiring about 700 square metres to be dug. Vertical systems do not require as much surface area due to boreholes dug vertically into the ground.

Q. Can I use the pump 24 hours a day?

A. You can, but it is unnecessary and expensive. Only use it when needed, which usually means just a few hours to reach an optimal temperature.

Q. How frequently do I need to clean my pump?

A. The more you clean it, the more efficient your pump will be. Clean it approximately every two weeks.

Q. Why does the heat pump emit steam on cold days?

A. The presence of steam is nothing to worry about as the heat pump is in its defrost cycle.

Q. Will the heat in my borehole run out?

A. The ground acts as a collector of the sun’s heat, with water bringing new heat to the borehole.


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