Government Backed Financial Incentives to Install Renewable Energy Heating Systems

Ground Source Heat Pumps Funded by the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive

Ground Source Heat Pumps

What are Ground Source Heat Pumps?

Ground Source Heat Pumps take free solar energy stored in the ground, referred to as ‘ground source heat’ and use it to heat your home and hot water.

Because this type of renewable energy simply moves the heat, rather than extracting it by burning fossil fuels, it is far more efficient than most other types of domestic heating technology.

In fact, ground source heat pumps typically produce 3 to 4 kilowatts of heat from just 1 kilowatt of electricity, making them up to 400% efficient.

Ground Source Heat Pumps are Reliable

Ground source heat pumps are reliable,  low maintenance and kind to the environment. They offer one of the most reliable heat sources of all fuel types because the temperature just a metre or so below the ground remains at 8º to 13º centigrade throughout the whole of the year.

Ground source heat pumps are not affected by increasing fuel prices, lack of sunlight or threatened supplies of fossil fuels.

Financial assistance for Installing Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps Attract Domestic RHI Tariffs for 7 Years

From 9th April 2014 ground source heat pump systems which heat your home using ‘wet’ central heating systems such as radiators, will attract financial assistance through the Government’s Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (Domestic RHI).

According to the Energy Saving Trust® ground source heat pumps can save around to £1,000 on your annual energy bills (compared to an LPG boiler).

They will also provide income of £2,500 per year from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments for installing ground source heat pumps are based on the annual heat demand from your Energy Performance Certificate. The current RHI tariff for ground source heat pumps is 20.89p per kWh, though the total RHI tariff payment is adjusted for Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of your ground source heat pump, please see FAQs below.

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Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive - Ground Source Heat Pumps
How do Ground Source Heat Pumps Work?

Heat from the ground is absorbed into a fluid passing through a series of pipes which have been buried underground, and that heat is extracted to heat your home.

These pipes, referred to as a ground loop, are installed either laid flat in a series of trenches 1 to 2 metres deep or are positioned vertically in a bore hole up to 100 metres deep.  The longer the ground loop underground, the more heat energy is collected for your home.

For those wanting a more technical explanation: heat absorbed by the ground loop fluid whilst underground is transferred to a refrigerant by an evaporator, which changes the fluid from a liquid to a gas.  A compressor compresses the gas, causing it to heat up and heat from the hot gas is then transferred to your heating system by a condenser.

Once the fluid has released its heat, it is pumped back underground for the process to continue.  Ground source heat pumps contain the evaporator, the compressor the condenser and naturally the pump; all within a box slightly larger than a domestic air conditioning unit.

Ground source heat pumps only need the fluid within the ground loop pipes to increase in temperature by 3º – 4º centigrade whilst underground, for the system to operate effectively.  Given that the temperature more than a metre down stays within a range of 8º – 13º centigrade even in winter, ground source heat pumps can supply heat to your home 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Ground source heat pumps can be used to provide heat for central heating radiators, underfloor heating and warm air systems, as well as supplying hot water for your home.

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive - Ground Source Heat Pumps
Ground Source Heat Pump
ground source heat pumps - ground loop
Ground Source Heat Pump Ground Loop
Ground Source Heat Pumps - Costs and Savings

The installation cost of a ground source heat pump system capable of heating your home and providing hot water is dependent on so many factors that for a four bedroom property, the price range can vary between £10,000 and £18,000.

Equally, savings in running costs can vary widely according to the efficiency of your existing heating system, whether you intend to have a back-up water heating system such as an immersion heater and how well insulated your home is.

Householders can save/earn up to £24,500 by installing a ground source heat pump

According to the Energy Saving Trust® householders switching from an LPG boiler to a ground source heat pump would save around £1,000 in energy bills, receive around £2,500 in RHI tariffs and save around 3,500kg in carbon emissions per year.

The Government’s own Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Tariff Calculator can provide you with an estimate of your tariff receipts. You can find it HERE.

Ground Source Heat Pumps FAQs

Do you have room outside for a ground loop?

Ground source heat pumps rely on a ground loop buried about a metre deep in your garden.

The space doesn’t have to be particularly large to take an adequately sized ground loop for your home but the area must be accessible for the machinery required to dig a series of trenches.

Alternatively, if you don’t have enough room for a horizontal ground loop, a borehole can be dug which would be typically 90 to 150 metres deep.

How much can I save by installing a ground source heat pump?

That depends on what your current heating system uses.

The less efficient your current heating system is, the more you have to gain in terms of energy bill savings and carbon emission reductions by installing ground source heat pumps.

If you are currently using LPG, heating oil, coal or electric storage heaters at the moment, you will achieve a greater saving by switching to a ground source heat pump than if you are currently using mains gas.

What is your proposed heat distribution system?

Ground source heat pumps are generally more efficient with underfloor heating or warm air systems as they require water at a lower temperature than central heating radiators to be effective.

If you are using radiators with a ground source heat pump, because they will emit heat at lower temperatures than a comparable oil or gas system would, you will probably need to keep the system switched on all of the time during colder periods.  Your radiators may not be as hot but will deliver the same amount of heat over a longer period of time.

How well insulated is your home?

Because ground source heat pumps deliver heat at a lower temperature over a longer period of time than similar oil or gas heating systems, your home will need to be particularly well insulated in order to take full advantage of your new renewable energy heating system.

As part of the application process for Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive you will need an assessment to ensure that the property complies with loft and wall insulation energy efficiency requirements.

What are the benefits of ground source heat pumps?

Although ground source heat pumps are not inexpensive to install, the introduction of the Government’s Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive has made them a credible alternative to burning fossil fuels for your heating system.

Benefits of ground source heat pumps include:

  • Lower fuel bills, especially if you are replacing a boiler which uses LPG or oil, electric storage heaters or a coal fired heating system.
  • Lower carbon dioxide emissions of up to 11 tonnes per year if you are replacing an LPG boiler or a coal fired heating system. (For a typical four bedroom house).
  • Receiving an income for seven years through the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme.
  • Not requiring deliveries of fuel such as coal, oil or LPG.
  • Very little routine maintenance is required of ground source heat pumps once they are installed as the system is closed and airtight.  An annual check of the external pipes, the water pump and electrical control systems to ensure they operating correctly is all that is required.  Heat pumps have a life expectancy of around 20 years and the ground loop 70 years, which compares very favourably with the components of other heating systems.
  • Domestic ground source heat pumps are generally accepted as ‘permitted development’ in England, Scotland and Wales and so should not require planning permission.  Exceptions may include conservation areas and listed buildings so it is always worth checking with your local authority first.

How much will I receive in Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs for installing a ground source heat pumps?

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive tariff payments for installing ground source heat pumps are based on the annual heat demand from your Energy Performance Certificate.

Currently you will receive 20.89p per kilowatt hour (kWh) but this is adjusted for the Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of the particular heat pump you have installed. A ground source heat pump with an SPF of 3 will on average deliver 3.0kWh of heat for every 1kWh of electricity it uses.

The adjusted annual RHI tariff payable is calculated as follows:

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive ASHP tariff calculation adjusted for SPF

If the annual heat demand from your EPC is 15,000 kWh your will receive an annual tariff of £2,089.00.

How do I find an installer for domestic ground source heat pumps?

We have access to the largest database of installers of domestic ground source heat pumps in the UK.

Simply complete the form on this page and we will introduce you to up to three accredited installation companies for you to request quotations from.

We do not charge you anything for this service and you are under no obligation to place an order with any of the installers that we introduce you to.

Affordable Warmth Scheme

Another Government scheme to help with heating systems in domestic households is the Affordable Warmth Scheme. This provides grants to help to replace broken heating systems and to install insulation in homes where one of the occupants receives a qualifying State Benefit, Tax Credits or other allowance.

More information about the Affordable Warmth Scheme can be found HERE.