Ground source heating is not to be confused with geothermal heating. Geothermal heating that absorbs heat from the earth's core requires very deep boreholes in the region of kilometres and is only accessible in a few locations around the world. Not so with ground source heat. Ground source heating is available everywhere and can harness the heat from the top soil that is heated by the sun. Ground source heat pump systems (GSHP systems) uses a pipe coiled beneath the soil. The pipe is filled with water and antifreeze and as it this liquid mixture soaks up the natural heat from the soil, the ground source heat pump conditions and distributes it throughout the heating or hot water system.
How Much Space does a GSHP System Take Up?
The only part of a GSHP system that requires sizing is the ground coil. Ground source heat pump system sizing will heavily depend upon the amount of heat that is required as well as the size of the heating system within the building being supplied with heating. The pipe that is laid into the ground can be as big as the available land permits. This pipe, known as a ground coil, can either stretch along horizontally beneath the surface of the ground in a trench system or be installed vertically into the ground to depths of up to 150 metres using a borehole system.
Cost Benefits of a GSHP System
The cost benefits of a ground source heat pump system will depend on the type of energy that will be replaced. The most substantial benefits of switching to a GSHP system can be achieved where the original heating system is an electric system. If the system to be replaced is a gas heating system then cost benefits are less and the ground source heat pump heating system would have to be designed, configured and operating at optimum levels to achieve the best savings. Apart from the electricity used to power the pump itself, ground source heat pump systems provide a great source of renewable energy as the regeneration of the heat that will be absorbed has a zero carbon footprint.
Ground Source Heating Pump Grants
Clear Skies renewable energy grants funded by the Department of Trade and Industry in the UK offers up to £1200 for ground source heating pump system installations. It has been reported that the UK government is set to introduce a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in June 2011 that may be able to offer the owners of ground source heat pump systems yearly payments of up to 12% of the additional cost of installing a GSHP system. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme (phase 1) also offers grants for property owners and private householders using ground source heat pump systems up until April 2011. Phase 2 is planned to follow and businesses, SMEs, community groups and non-profit organizations are thought to be able to benefit from the scheme.