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Frequently Asked Questions
How efficient is a Ground Source Heatpump (GSHP) system?
Modern systems are very efficient. For each kilowatt of electricity used to run the heat pump, three to four kilowatts of heat can be delivered to the building, this is known as the Coefficient of Performance, or CoP. The efficiency of a GSHP installation is very dependent on the quality of the design and installation. The CoP of a heat pump system depends on the design and quality of the installation: from as low as 2 for an air source heat pump system in unfavourable conditions, up to 4-5 for an unassisted ground source heat pump.
Are ground source heat pumps established technology?
Yes, GSHP systems are common, particularly in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand. The principles of GSHP were first described by Lord Kelvin in the 1850s and continuous development since they were first used commercially more than 50 years ago has greatly improved their efficiency and reliability. They now provide a proven, cost-effective, safe and environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels.
How large are ground source heat pumps?
A heat pump for a small building is about the size of a large fridge. More powerful heat pumps for commercial buildings do not increase in size or price as much as they do in power output.
Is a ground source heat pump system suitable for a well-insulated building?
Yes. All new buildings are designed to meet Building Regulations and should be able to benefit from a GSHP. Building Regulations have been designed to conserve fuel, reduce heat losses and ensure greater energy efficiency, in order to ensure that all modern properties need less heating. For a well-insulated building the size of heat pump will be smaller, it will need smaller ground loops (the pipe work in the ground) and will therefore be less expensive. You should take advice from an installer with commercial experience.
Can ground source heat pumps be installed in older buildings?
Yes, but remember that investment in good insulation will be well rewarded, whatever the source of heat. The cost of a system is directly related to the heat losses, which will generally be higher in older buildings. Money spent on upgrading insulation levels can save a considerable amount on the capital cost of a ground source heat pump system. Click on the cog above to find out about a project where we installed a GSHP into an older building.
Can the heat pump be installed outside or in a basement?
Yes. This normally means the heatpump will be nearer to the pipe connections to the ground loops, which often makes the whole system easier to connect. Calibrate can provide an external plant room (below) to house the heatpump and this can be located in a position to suit the client’s needs.
Are ground source systems environmentally friendly?
Yes. In the UK, there is now a strong move towards alternative technologies that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. 40% of CO2 emissions are derived from the heating and cooling of buildings. Using renewable sources of energy to heat buildings helps to reduce these carbon emissions, particularly when compared to burning fossil fuels. The arguments are even stronger where a building needs cooling in summer as well as heating in winter. Ground source heating and cooling provides sustainable energy. The Government have backed this technology due to how environmentally friendly it is!
Are Ground Source Heat Pumps dangerous?
There are no hazardous gas emissions, no flammable oil, LPG or gas pipes, no flue or chimney and no unsightly fuel tanks. GSHP systems have absolutely NO site emissions. There is, therefore, no need for safety checks prior to installation. However there will be electrical checks before the system is signed off and as part of regular maintenance.
Are Ground Source Heat Pumps noisy?
No, a ground source heat pump makes less noise than a gas boiler, and is very much less noisy than an air source heat pump which drives a fan to extract heat from ambient air.
What about servicing and maintenance?
As with any valuable plant a ground source system should be covered by an annual maintenance agreement with the supplier. However, routine maintenance requirements are very low. A ground source heat pump can be expected to last over 20 years – longer than a combustion boiler – and the ground heat exchanger should have a life of over 100 years.
Why are ground source systems known as "invisible heating systems"?
Ground source systems are automated. Because they come with low maintenance, low running costs, low noise and are out of sight, they are often referred to as "invisible heating systems".
One key advantage of ground source systems is that they are classed as “permitted development”, so in most cases you will not require any planning consent.
How do running costs compare with conventional alternatives?
A GSHP system can offer very high efficiency and low running costs. Oil-fired boilers cost considerably more to run. Even modern condensing gas boilers are more expensive to run at current gas prices, with gas prices also set to rise. All fossil fuel boilers need regular servicing to maintain efficiency and check safety. We consistently see savings of around two thirds on our installations, taking into account the RHI tariff.
What about alternative heat sources for heat pumps?
A GSHP uses a ground loop or borehole to exchange heat with the ground: the advantage is that a relatively constant temperature is available throughout the winter if the ground loop is sized correctly. There are alternatives which can also be attractive for larger buildings including open loop systems which heat exchange with open water or aquifer systems: Water source heat pumps or marine source heat pumps. It is also possible to heat exchange with ambient air, but an air source heat pump is significantly less efficient when the external air temperature is cold - and this corresponds with the time when space heating is most needed.
What are the costs of installing a ground source heat pump?
The initial purchase costs of a ground source heat pump system are more than a conventional oil or gas fired boiler. The initial capital expense is offset by lower running costs, lower maintenance and low servicing requirement. There is also the security of knowledge that the majority of your heating and cooling energy comes out of the ground and will not increase in price.
Be careful to avoid judging an installation on price alone. It is more important to ensure you have a well-designed system if your aim is to save money over the life of the installation.
Low interest rate renewable loans, secured against the equipment, are readily available. Just ask a member of the calibrate team for more information.
Are government tariffs available to reduce running costs further?
Yes. See Renewable Heat Incentive for commercial buildings.
GSHP – 8.84p/kW Vs Biomass – 4.18p/kW
A GSHP is over 100% better in this respect!
Click on the cog opposite to find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Tariff.
Is there a capacity limit for a GSHP?
No but there is a limit on the RHI payment you can receive. The size of GSHP is wholly dependent on the size of property(s) the GSHP will service.
Will it be hot enough?
Yes. Using a GSHP you can expect to have up to 65 degrees Celsius available, however we limit ours to 55 degrees Celsius due to this being the most efficient a GSHP can run.
Will I have to replace my existing heating system?
No. We can link the new GSHP system to your existing system to keep your costs to a minimum. In some circumstances it may be necessary to replace radiators with larger ones, or to add additional radiators to the system.
How long will the system last?
The only part of the system that will eventually need to be replaced is the pump itself. We expect the high quality Grundfos pumps we use to last at least 20 years. Some components may need to be replaced during yearly maintenance but this will be minimal.
How good a quality are the parts that you use?
Our reputation is key to our success and to make sure we keep our reputation as high as our standards. In order to do this we only use the best quality products on the market and deal directly with the original equipment manufacturers wherever possible.
Will I need Insurance?
As with all large scale projects, there will need to be insurances in place. Your current financial adviser should be able to arrange this for you, or we would be happy to refer you to a well- known, reputable advisor for help.
How do I control and operate the system?
Once the GSHP has been installed it is very hands off, simply continue to use your heating exactly as previously. To monitor the system we can install a monitoring package which would allow us to keep constant tabs to how your heatpump is performing and whether anything is not performing to its optimum, usually before you would see any drop in performance.
What warranty do I get?
All of our products come with an industry leading warranty of 7 years! This is dependent on the regular maintenance being carried out by ourselves on a yearly basis. On top of this we are able to offer a 20 year extended maintenance and warranty package. This extended warranty will cover your heatpump system for ALL of your yearly maintenance and should any part of your system need to be replaced. Starting from as little as £1,000 a year, ask us how much the extended warranty would cost for your system.
I still have some questions, what should I do next?
If you still have any questions, why not give us a call on 01665 578 638 and a member of our team will answer your questions, or email us and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.