How Much Does a Ground Source Heat Pump Cost?
Ground source heat pumps (GSHP) have proven to be efficient home heating methods over the years and are on top of the list of candidates for phasing out gas boilers.
Although this is technically a myth as hydrogen boilers will replace gas boilers, heat pumps do currently have their place as an alternative to gas boilers
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Why should you get a heat pump?
They employ one of the leading technologies in the fight against adverse changes in our climate and are sustainable because they don’t require fossil fuels to function. They are a more efficient heat harvester when it comes to ground source vs air source heat pumps and are a much cheaper heating and cooling option than an oil heating system or gas boiler.
That being said, the hefty initial sticker price has kept many homeowners away from installing them over the years. There are ways to bring down this cost and numerous post-installation cost-saving benefits, which, coupled with the assured energy cost savings, will help you recover the initial cost in no time.
Stick around for a comprehensive breakdown of the total ground source heat pump cost with elaborate tips for optimizing the value of your investment. Despite your budgetary concerns, we will show you why we think they are the best sustainable heating solution.
Ground Source Heat Pump Cost Per Unit
There is a huge variance in ground source heat pump costs because of differences in power, size, and complexity. Market dynamics like brand reputations, models and demand also contribute to this disparity.
It is therefore impossible to pinpoint a typical cost, but you should have a ballpark figure to work with to justify the project and allocate a budget.
The ideal size and power of the heat pump are dependent on the heating demands of the building it will be serving. The bigger the home, the more energy is required to heat it.
You should also consider how the heat will be applied; heating water consumes more energy than heating a room. The heavier the demand, the more powerful the heat pump system needs to be and the more it will cost.
A small 2-bedroom house can be served by a 4kW GSHP which goes for £3,000. An 8kW ground source heat pump capable of providing heat for a 4-bedroomed house, on the other hand, costs between £6,000 and £7,000 before factoring in installation.
The house might require more power, say up to 12kW, and depending on the model and specifications, you may need to part with up to £12,000 for the unit alone.
Ground Source Heat Pump Materials Cost
Ground source heat pumps rely on ground loops, which are pipes through which a fluid runs as it absorbs heat from the ground.
For this to be effective, the pipes need to be buried deep enough underground to not compromise the temperature before it gets into the building.
There is approximately 100m of pipe per installation; the length can be higher or lower depending on the heating needs, the weather and the ground. The cost of piping increases with the size of pipe utilized.
The fluid which runs through the pipes is also a factor of the cost; The ideal fluid for extremely low temperatures is more expensive than the regular fluid. It needs to be treated with antifreeze compounds to flow freely in those conditions.
What Is the Overall Cost of Installation of a Ground Source Heat Pump?
The cost of a ground source heat pump system is just a single element of the budget. You need to factor in installation, which comprises labour, materials and transport, and the excavation costs with their own labour costs and taxes.
If you upgrade or replace an existing heating system, the removal cost should also be included in your financial estimate.
GSHP installations should be done exclusively by licensed contractors or a heat pump installer as they are technical and complicated. Being a relatively new technology, specialized engineers are also few, and their costs are relatively high compared to other heating solutions.
A simple ground source heat pump installation will cost between £15,000 and £19,000, while a complex one ranges from £20,000 to £35,000.
We anticipate a drop in these charges as more people embrace ground source heat pumps. With the increasing demand for installation experts, more engineers are trained to handle them.
The more options are available in the market, the cheaper they will charge for their services, making installation more affordable.
Different Ground Source Heat Pump Installations and Their Costs
The cost of digging and excavation per square foot varies depending on your location, the lay of the land, the type of soil you are working with and the selected ground source heat pump loop system.
There are two main configurations for these loops that are currently applied, each with its own special application that is suitable for different circumstances:
Horizontal Loop System
This setup has the heat pump system’s pipes buried horizontally in shallow ground, approximately four feet deep.
The available space should lay enough piping to satisfy your heating needs. A licensed contractor should advise you on how much space is required to determine if your space is adequate for this configuration.
Vertical Loop System
This arrangement comes in handy when you have inadequate land to execute a sufficient horizontal installation, or you need to limit the surface area of the installation for one reason or another.
Digging vertically allows you to leave much of the landscape intact but is more expensive than digging horizontally.
Thanks to the shallower installation point, horizontal loops offer relief as digging and excavation costs are lower. The soil composition will increase or decrease this cost difference; it changes exponentially with the degree of difficulty in excavation.
The trenches for horizontal loops should cost between £2 and £5 per meter while the boreholes for vertical loops average between £5 and £100 per meter.
Unique Dynamics That Might Influence Your Ground Source Heat Pump Cost
Other variables might cause a difference in the cost of your ground source heat pump, which has to be considered when optimizing its efficiency. Depending on your unique circumstances, you might find yourself spending more or less on the same solution.
The Local Climate
If the heat pump is to be installed in a particularly cold area, you need to take measures to ensure the fluid that runs in the loops don’t freeze. This might involve adding extra chemicals to the fluid, which costs extra.
The cold also demands that the pipes are laid lower in the ground because the surface will be freezing, and it will be harder to find the part of the earth which hasn’t been affected.
The extra digging and excavation required and the longer pipes will naturally drive installation costs up. Areas that don’t receive adequate sunlight are also treated with longer pipes that are laid deeper.
The Type of Soil on Your Land
This will affect GSHP installation on your property in several ways. If it is rugged and rocky, the specialized equipment required to dig and the labour intensity will drive the price up.
The capacity of the soil type to conduct, diffuse or retain heat also has a bearing on the choice of loop configuration and the length of pipe required to generate sufficient heat for your specifications.
What Are the Operational Costs for Ground Source Heat Pumps?
GSHPs are highly efficient. Your average heat pump gets a seasonal coefficient of performance (SCOP) rating of between 3 and 4. This means they can produce 3 to 4 kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity used.
The most efficient boilers are approximately 95% efficient and can’t even compete. This means the GSHP’s running cost is very low.
The more inefficient the system being replaced was, the more you could save on your energy bills by switching to a GSHP.
The type of fuel you are replacing also has a bearing on the amount of savings you make and the overall running cost involved.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, you can save up to £1,330 per year if you switch from an old G-rated LPG boiler. On the other hand, you can spend up to £215 more per annum if you are replacing a new A-rated oil boiler.
The environmental gains by moving from fossil fuels and the peace of mind that comes from being in sync with the government’s plans outweigh this small increase. These figures are based on a standalone 4-bedroom house.
Ground Source Heat Pump Maintenance Costs and Longevity
Their repair and maintenance costs are way cheaper than traditional air conditioning systems. Because their most critical components are underground, they are less prone to vandalism or damage from the environmental elements.
Their heightened efficiency also means the parts hardly strain when operating at full capacity, which gives them longevity. Ground source heat pumps have an estimated lifespan of 25 years, while their ground heat collectors last between 70 and 100 years.
This doesn’t mean that licensed contractors shouldn’t regularly inspect ground source heat pumps. Air compressors and similar parts might require servicing, and it is good to know this in advance before the damage extends to other parts. They usually charge per visit, and you might have to pay for repairs.
Ways of Reducing Ground Source Heat Pump Costs
The more you can reduce the payback period, which is the amount of time it will take for the guaranteed energy savings to recoup the total GSHP cost, the more value you get for your money. This section explores several means of achieving this that are accessible to all GSHP owners.
Get Multiple Quotes from Different Skilled and Licensed GSHP Contractors Before Settling
They will enable you to feel the prevailing GSHP acquisition and installation prices. This way, you can be certain you are getting the best value for your money, and you will have a clearer unbiased picture of what you need in terms of capacity and the installation process.
Because this is their profession, they can get deals with GSHP sellers and digging contractors or have these departments in their companies. They will work efficiently and save on material and labour costs whose benefits are often transferred to you.
Avoid Wastage in the Utilization of Heat
The less heat you need, the lower the amount of energy you require, which significantly lowers operational costs. This can also allow you to install a smaller heat pump whose capacity is a bit lower and cheaper.
The most effective way to do this is to minimize wastage which is possible through better insulation of the spaces, blocking drafts and using hot water only when and where necessary.
Take Full Advantage of Government Incentives
A ground source heat pump is highly efficient, eco-friendly and relies on sustainable energy sources. It is well-aligned with the government’s plans to migrate all heating to renewable energy sources exclusively. This means you will be eligible for a domestic renewable heat incentive over the years as the government tries to entice people away from energy sources with greenhouse effects.
The ongoing Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, for instance, provides an estimated £2,000 to £4,000 per year for using renewable heating. These payments go a long way in offsetting the cost of replacing an inefficient heating system.
Buy the Right Size Pump for Your Needs
While it is nice to know that your heating system can get you through the harshest winter and a lower temperature, it will be an unnecessary heat energy cost if you never experience these in your region. The higher the capacity of the ground source heat pump, the more it will cost to purchase, and this cuts across all brands.
It is good practice to determine your energy needs through the different seasons before selecting a heat pump and deciding on the optimum capacity for your intended heat output. This might free up a few pounds for the installation of your heat pump unit.
Connect the Heat Pump to a Renewable Energy Source
You can reduce your electric bill further by pairing the heat pump with your own electricity generation system, say a solar panel. As long as your capacity doesn’t exceed 50kW, this setup with your solar panel also gives you eligibility to apply for the government-backed smart export guarantee (SEG) because you are a small-scale generator of low carbon electricity. In this boiler upgrade scheme, you get rewarded as an eco-warrior and relieve the national grid.
What Are the Benefits of a Ground Source Heat Pump?
To reiterate what this article is really about so we remember why we are fussing over the cost of this solution; this is how a GSHP system will improve the quality of your life:
- It consumes less energy more efficiently than most other heating solutions, making it a sustainable solution in terms of your heat energy cost and future availability. The reduced dependence on oil and gas helps avoid situations like the oil crisis of 1973.
- The system requires minimal maintenance because there are few moving parts, and the bulk of it is safely buried underground, away from the elements and vandalism. This also translates to longer service life.
- This heat pump unit is eco-friendly as the energy produced has no carbon emissions. They relieve the electricity grid significantly from heating burdens which overcompensate for the amount of electricity needed to power them, for a net negative carbon output regardless of the source of electricity.
- It is a 2-in-1 solution as the ground source heat pump system can serve both as the building’s heating and cooling plant.
Our Final Thoughts
We hope we have armed you with the ability to estimate the ground source heat pump cost payback period and that you are now aware of the multiple means at your disposal to reduce it.
We wouldn’t want the hefty acquisition and installation costs to turn you off simply because you are unaware of the bigger picture.
Our goal was to make you realize how easy it is to transition to this sustainable, futureproof heating solution in an organized way that will not hurt your resources. You want to be proactively on the right side of the UK Government’s discussions on the future of the gas boiler.
This way, you won’t be rushed into less efficient eco-friendly replacements when the restrictions are enforced in the foreseeable future.