Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) are electrically powered central heating and/ or cooling systems that transfers heat to or from the ground. They use the earth’s relatively constant temperature to provide heating, cooling and hot water for homes and commercial buildings.
GSHP’s have been hugely successful in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Since their introduction to the commercial market over 50 years ago, there have been key developments to greatly improve their efficiency, making them a serious competitor for alternative heating systems. Mother Earth News explores the reasons for their popularity and the benefits of using ground source heat pumps.
Heat pumps are a sound investment and their initial installation costs are often superseded by the long-term potential savings they offer homeowners. For example, average savings for homeowners using ground source heat pumps is more than 60 percent. In monetary terms, an average household that produces 75 percent of their heating from a ground source heat pump can potentially save between an estimated £600 - £700 per year on energy bills.
Since ground source heat pumps generate their energy from the earth and the heat they extract from the ground is constantly being renewed naturally, they are considered a renewable form of energy. This environmental benefit also has a financial bonus for homeowners who have are not left vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices that are prone to increased price hikes during the winter months. Therefore, ground source heat pumps bring a certain level of security for a homeowner who has a cost-effective and reliable heating system, whenever they need it.
Of course, on top of this, there is also the added bonus of having no concerns over unreliable fuel deliveries with a ground source heat pump system in place and no concerns over fuel being stolen.
Another key benefit of ground source heat pumps is they are intrinsically safe. With no exposed equipment, children and pets cannot injure themselves or damage exterior units. Furthermore, homeowners with ground source heat pumps do not need to worry about flammable fuels, dangerous fuel storage tanks or open flames. There is no risk of potentially harmful gas emissions and no combustion involved.
Homeowners wanting to reduce their carbon footprint and adopt a greener lifestyle can benefit from using ground source heat pumps over other forms of heating, especially electric heating or coal.
Furthermore, those opting for ground source heat pumps can expect reductions of between 350 and 5410 kilograms of carbon dioxide per year. The exact environmental impact will depend on the efficiency of the system and the type of fuel being replaced. According to the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association, currently installed systems are having a huge impact on our environment by helping to eliminate more than 3,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide and is the equivalent of taking 650,000 automobiles off the road.
Pairing a heat pump with a green electricity supply such as solar photovoltaic (solar PV) can cut carbon dioxide emissions to zero whilst meeting a homeowner’s heating, hot water and electricity needs.
A well-designed ground source heat pump system will have a 20 year life span and only require an annual check. Otherwise, little to no maintenance is required. What’s more, since these pumps are hidden underground, they are rarely affected by the cold British winters and not susceptible to damage from harsh elements like storms, ice or snow.
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