Let’s talk about heat pumps

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Following on from our hugely popular ‘7 most common radiator questions’ blog, our next topic is heat pumps.

You will see them listed online as: air source heat pumps, ASHP, ground source heat pumps or GSHP.

When we’re at shows across Cornwall – Royal Cornwall Show, Stithians Show and Cornwall Home and Lifestyle – people regularly ask us about heat pumps.

It’s the one form of renewable energy or green energy that people want to know more about.

You may have also seen our posts on social media showcasing the work we’re doing with Trebah Garden to install a new ground source heating system for the tourist attraction.

We provide heat pumps for new builds and retrofit projects, however, we have based our answers on an installation on a 200mnew build, 4-bedroom home. These are our most common projects at the moment.


So, here’s the 7 most common heat pumps questions that we are asked.


How much does it cost to install a ground source heat pump?

A heat pump costs around £15,000 to £20,000 to install, however, these costs can be reduced if you have the land for horizontal trenches.

The cost also depends on the size of the system and if you need any additional work, such as fitting underfloor heating.

Heat pumps typically cost around £800 a year to run, but in our example house you would generate £1,700 income every year for 7 years from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme.


How efficient is a ground source heat pump?

Put simply, ground source heat pumps are very efficient.

A well-designed and installed system will turn 1kW of electricity into 3 to 4kW of heat.


How much space is required for a ground source heat pump?

The amount of space depends on your requirements. We have installed heat pumps in large plots, as well as small spaces. In fact, we have always been able to help customers that have asked about heat pumps.

The best way to find out how much space you will need for a heat pump is to have a technical survey carried out. This will give you a much more accurate measurement.


Is ground source heating cost effective?

Yes – ground source heating is cost effective.

Once you have installed the system, you will begin to see payback immediately.

Based on a typical 4-bedroom detached home the annual savings could be as much as £1,260 for LPG or £1,420 for electricity (*figures from the Centre for Sustainable Energy).


Do you need a boiler with a heat pump?

No, your heat pump system will provide all your heating and hot water needs.

GSHPs require less maintenance than combustion based heating systems. They also have a longer life than combustion boilers.

Heat pumps can also provide cooling in summer, as well as heating in winter.


How long do heat pumps last?

Heat pumps can last up to 20 years.

In order to ensure a long-life, it is important that heat pumps are serviced and maintained annually. This also ensures they are running efficiently and giving you the best payback possible.

The ground heat exchanger element of a ground source heat pump installation has a design life of over 100 years.


Which is better – ground source or air source heat pumps?

A ground source heat pump is typically more efficient than an air source heat pump, and it has better RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) payback.

Ground source heat pumps can be more expensive to buy and install, but they are nearly always the most efficient option.

Air source heat pumps will still offer good RHI tariffs and can be the easiest and most affordable heat pump to install, especially where internal space is an issue.


Answers compiled by Blue Flame’s renewable energy expert, Chris Hughes.


For more information please call 01326 378122.