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  • The Cost of Installing Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHPs)

    Heard of ground source heat pumps?

    In the following guide, we’ll break down what a ground source heat pump is, how much it costs to install a ground source heat pump, as well as various other costs and tips.

    This article will also delve into relevant topics such as the benefits of each type and what steps involved in the installation process.

    Ground source heat pump

    AVERAGE COST OF INSTALLING GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMPS:

    The pumps can be installed within six days from start to finish.

    £13,500

    How Much Does It Cost to Install Ground Source Heat Pumps?

    Ground heat pumps vary significantly in cost. This is purely because the pump depends on several aspects, from the type of pump to the house size.

    Let's start from the smaller end; the pump would be installed using a 6kW heat pump. Within the heat pump, a hot water cylinder with a small horizontal ground loop would be installed. The length of this is usually around 250-300 meters. This would cost in the region of £10,000-£12,500 for the installation.

    Naturally, as the size of the installation grows, the price will also. Moving on to the larger ground heat source pumps, a heat pump with a 12kW and 750m ground loop with a 300-litre water cylinder would come to around £15,500-£16,000.

    Ground source heat pump installation

    The Installation is not the only cost. It is important to consider the additional costs such as digging. Digging can leave a substantial dent in your budget if not taken into account. The cost will also vary depending on the pump size.

    Some pumps, for example, horizontal systems, may require trenching, while vertical pumps may require deep drilling of a borehole.

    This cost can and will vary on a case-by-case basis. This depends on aspects such as location (as local prices may be cheaper/more expensive), contacts (maybe you know a landscaper who can do this for a reduced rate) or availability (taking two days to complete may higher the premium you pay with a professional contractor).

    Ground Source Heat Pump Installation Prices

    Horizontal Ground Source Heat Pump

    GSHP Size Supply and installation Cost(£) Groundwork cost(£) Total(£)
    11kW 15,750 3,750 20,500
    8kW 10,800 5,150 15,950

    Vertical Ground Source Heat Pump

    GSHP Size Supply and installation Cost(£) Groundwork cost(£) Total(£)
    11kW 15,750 9,750 25,500
    8kW 10,800 11,150 21,950

    Supply Costs

    Some people might be capable of doing the installation themselves. This is a cost-effective way if you have the tools and skills for the job.

    Below are the costs for purely the supplies with no installation costs. The UK average is around £1350 per kW.

    Capacity(kW) Supply Costs(£)
    8kW 10,800
    11kW 14,850
    35kW 47,250
    16kW 21,600
    46kW 62,100

    Additional Costs

    If DIY is not your forté, then there are plenty of tradespeople who would be happy to help. One of the main jobs includes groundwork, however, there are other tasks that may be less obvious.

    Let's look at it this way, you have just spent £21,950 on a vertical GSHP, you are on track to save a lot of money on your heating bill in the long term, or are you?

    Typically, yes, you will, but you may be wasting your time and money in certain circumstances.

    Why?

    Wall insulation. If you do not have sufficient insulation, then your heat that is being generated is somewhat wasted. This is something that may be worth looking at while you are upgrading your heating system.

    Cavity Wall Insulation

    Cavity wall insulation makes sure that heat being generated is kept inside the house, meaning less energy is required to heat the home.

    Cavity wall insulation

    This is not only eco friendly but also economically friendly as this will help you maintain those savings.

    House Type Cost
    Mid Terrace £350-400
    Semi Detached £450-500
    Detached £700-750

    Underfloor Heating

    Now we know how much it is to install the pump and maintain the savings, you may find that you have some spare money left in the budget to really enjoy the heating.

    We all know the feeling. It's December early morning; the room is warm until you step into the bathroom/kitchen, you are then met with the icy tiles on your bare feet.

    Underfloor heating

    There is a simple yet luxurious solution, underfloor heating. Different houses need different types of underfloor heating. In an older house, electric mats may not produce enough heat to work effectively.

    In this case, a wet underfloor will be used as this is linked to the boiler directly, giving it a much more effective system; this is, however, more expensive. Electric mats are cheaper and better suited to more insulated areas which do not need heating as much. Let's discuss the cost.

    Description Job Duration Material Cost Labour Cost
    Wet underfloor heating supply and install in kitchen 3 Days £300 £900
    Kitchen concrete floor with wood laminate flooring electric underfloor heating 2 Days £500 £300

    Labour Costs and Timescales

    The Labour cost is often overlooked. We get so invested in picking the right equipment and how much that is costing and then forget about the extra work that needs to be done. The main part of having a GSHP installed is the groundwork.

    The cheaper way to have the pump installed is to have it installed horizontally, as this requires less labour. As shown before, the groundwork for a vertical 12kW heat source pump would need more work.

    Three boreholes will need to be drilled, which comes to a total of £15,000 for the drilling alone. For a horizontal heat pump, the price would be around £10,000.

    Blue ground source heat pump

    The timescales depend on what needs work doing to it. The main timescale comes before the heat pump is even near the house. The heating system needs to be excavated and can take around one to two days to evacuate.

    Following this, installing the pipes takes place. Then the tradesperson will make sure the heating system is working to its full potential and modifying the ductwork will commence, which can take three to four days. The heat pump will then be installed and connected to the ductwork.

    Cost Factors of Installing Ground Source Heat Pumps

    The size is a big factor when looking at what can affect the cost. The bigger the pump, the more work will be needed on the other aspects of the job, such as groundwork and heat pump type.

    Level of Insulation

    The level of insulation is also a big factor. If the insulation is not sufficient, then the new pump is somewhat a waste as the heat generated is not being preserved in the house.

    The insulation depends on how much you need and what type of insulation you buy. The good thing is you can get a full house insulated for a small amount in the grand scheme of the overall project.

    Type of Heat Pump

    The type of heat pump can cost or save you a big chunk of the budget. A horizontal heat pump is the most cost-effective but may not be suitable for the space you have.

    If you have a big pump that needs a large surface area that you cannot cater to, you may need to have a vertical pump which will cost you a lot more.

    RHI Payments

    RHI payments are a good incentive put in place by the government to get homeowners to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

    If used correctly, the landlord/homeowner will be awarded quarterly payments as an incentive to stick to using clean, renewable energy.

    This is a good way to get some money back for the initial outlay of the heat system change.

    Location of Property

    The location of the property may mean that the contractor may need to do more work than they would for an average customer.

    If more work is needed, the contractor may charge more in labour which could prove rather costly in the long run.

    Groundwork

    Many of the factors previously mentioned have referred to the groundwork. The groundwork, much like the name suggests, provides the base for the work that needs doing.

    Heat pump

    The groundwork is the specialist aspect that needs professional assistance to ensure it has been completed to a suitable level.

    The more groundwork that needs doing, the more money it will cost as labour charges will increase.

    What's Involved in Installing a Ground Source Heat Pump

    When installing a ground source heat pump, there are five steps involved, including:

    Assess Your Home

    Planning is the most important part of any design process.

    This step involves an installer visiting the home to appraise what heat pump, energy source and which distribution would be best for the home.

    The installer will take all the information and create a plan for the best GSHP system for you.

    Excavate Loop Fields

    After the initial planning, it is time to excavate the loop fields, whether the plan suggests horizontal and vertical, so that the pipes can be buried into the soil with them later on.

    Install the Pipes

    The pipes are then fitted and filled with water and antifreeze, which then acts as a heat exchanger.

    Modify the Heat Distribution Infrastructure

    From here, the contractor will modify the ductwork. This may require the removal of the original heat distribution infrastructure.

    Install the Heat Pump

    For the last step, the contractor will connect the heat pump to the ductwork meaning the heat pump is now ready.

    White ground source heat pump

    Before turning the heat pump on the water flow from the ground to the exchange loop, air temperature and amp draw on the heat pump needs to be observed.

    Can I Install a Ground Source Heat Pump Myself?

    We all love DIY. We all like to look at our work and feel proud of our achievement. Unfortunately, DIY is not perfect, and some things need to be left to the professionals.

    While this is technically possible to install yourself, it is highly advisable to leave this to the contractor. The risks are very real and very serious. The most obvious is the complete rewiring of a heating system which can cause issues with electric shocks, power cuts, flooding etc.

    Without a proper design which has been done by a professional means, the efficiency will be compromised. This may result in the the heat pump becoming useless in terms of saving energy and money. If that still isn't enough to deter you, maybe the RHI's disqualification will be.

    Man installing ground source heat pump

    The main advantage of having this done by a professional is that you will get the quarterly payment incentive if used correctly.

    Now if you are completely sold on wanting to be involved, you can do aspects of the project yourself. For instance, You can dig the trenches for the horizontal ground source heat pump.

    Building Regulations & Planning Permission for Ground Source Heat Pump Installation

    Planning permission needs to be looked into. If planning permission is needed, then it is important to apply as this can result in most costs along the line.

    Close up of ground source heat pump

    Planning permission can cost up to £206 for making changes to your home, and you can apply through your local authority.

    Now, do you need planning permission for a new GSHP? Simply, no, but you do need to comply with the building regulations. It is best to speak to your local MCS-certified installer to help you with any questions.

    Types of Ground Source Heat Pumps

    Horizontal ground source heat pumps fall typically on the cheaper side of GSHP systems as less groundwork is required, so this is a benefit. This is also cheaper, and both vertical and horizontal systems are great renewable sources.

    Outside ground source heat pump

    Vertical ground source heat pumps require a lot less space than its horizontal counterpart meaning it is more accessible if you do not have a lot of landmass. Overall a GSHP has an annual running cost average of £975.

    Benefits of Ground Source Heat Pumps

    RHI Payments

    The payments you receive for having a GSHP can work out to around £4300 per year, which is a big return and goes a long way to help regain the money that was initially laid out to have the system installed.

    Space Saving

    The heating system does not require the mains gas import, meaning you save space in your home. You also do not need to worry about seeing it outside either as the system will be below ground.

    No Risk of Combustion

    No gas is being used. This way of heating uses a mix of both solar and heat generated in the ground. This means there is no chance of a gas leak.

    There is no chance of a build-up of gas and subsequent combustion as there is nothing in the system to cause this reaction.

    Save Money

    We all love to save money, and when using a GSHP, the usage cost of your energy will be considerably lower as no fossil fuels are being used. The initial outlay does seem expensive, but this is a long-term investment, and you will certainly see the benefits.

    Wall mounted ground source heat pump

    Removing a Ground Source Heat Pump

    Much like the installation, the DIY option is very much advised against. A professional should be called to remove this as the same risks apply as the installation.

    The removal will require more groundwork to remove the system, and then the system will need to be replaced, so it could end up costing a lot more in the long run.

    The labour costs will be at least the same as the installation, if not more, as more work needs to be done.

    Hiring Contractors to Install Ground Source Heat Pumps Checklist

    1. Get multiple quotes - It would help if you get quotes from multiple companies and contractors before hiring anyone. This gives you a great chance to review the different prices and work out who best suits the job.
    2. Look for local hires - Local hires are always great options as they're usually on hand to start the work quickly. They have probably worked on homes in the area for you to take a look at, and you'll save money on travel costs.
    3. Check their previous work - Contractors will now generally have online portfolios and websites for you to take a look at their previous work and peruse reviews that they have received from past customers. This is a brilliant way to vet them before hiring any company.
    4. Don't rush! - Take the time to review all the prices and make a decision based on good research of everything listed in this section before choosing a contractor.
    5. Liability insurance - You should always make sure that the company working on your home has liability insurance to protect both them and you, the customer, from any issues further down the line.

    FAQs

    How does a ground source heat pump work?
    Ground source heat pumps use pipes buried below ground; the pipes extract the heat from the ground, which is then used for the heat throughout the house. The water and antifreeze mixture is then circulated around the ground loop to convert into heat.
    What size ground source heat pump do I need?
    A number of factors need to be considered, particularly average temperature in the winter, the size of the area that required heating and the insulation of the area.
    Does a heat pump prevent condensation?
    Yes, the water circulating throughout the system removes the humidity, which causes condensation to dissipate.
    How long will a heat pump last?
    The average lifespan is 15-20 years if the correct maintenance Is performed.
    Are heat pumps environmentally friendly?
    Yes, heat pumps are environmentally friendly if installed correctly and used with a well-insulated area.

    Sources

    https://www.greenmatch.co.uk/heat-pump/ground-source-heat-pump/ground-source-heat-pump-prices
    https://www.imsheatpumps.co.uk/blog/cost-of-installing-ground-source-heat-pump-in-uk/
    https://www.imsheatpumps.co.uk/blog/diy-ground-source-heat-pump/
    https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200130/common_projects/27/heat_pumps/4
    https://www.geogreenpower.com/blog/five-benefits-of-ground-source-heat-pumps/

    Last updated by MyJobQuote on 17th August 2021.

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