Do I need a ‘ground source heat pump’ … I don’t rightly know!

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Do I need a ‘ground source heat pump’ . . . I don’t rightly know!

The term ‘ground source heat pump’ sounds Jules Verne’esque to me … as if it was part of the machine taking him on the Journey to the Centre of the Earth! But it is a term that is starting to smack me across the face as it starts to get mentioned more and more.

I was recently buying a new replacement boiler and as part of researching which one to buy, bits and pieces mentioning ground source heat pumps started to appear. Apparently the UK is moving away from gas boilers and as of 2025 renewable heating systems will be used in all new build homes. As much as I would have liked to move to a renewable heating system I had too many questions I couldn’t find the answers to and it looked like the cost of installing the new system was well outside my budget. Did I want a vertical or horizontal system? was my back garden big enough to produce enough heat? How much space did I need in the house? Could my back garden run out of heat? (apparently it can temporarily?) what happens if it does? How easy are they to install in a 60’s built house? Will my back garden be destroyed? How often do they need to be replaced? And, will the money I save on heating bills ever outweigh the cost of installation?

Unfortunately there were too many unanswered questions and too much cost – I went with a highly efficient condensing boiler. Since getting my boiler fitted I have stumbled across a few answers (which may or may not be correct) – you need 40m x 12m of land to install the pipes or the ability to have a 60 – 200m bore hole drilled, the ‘unit’ is about the size of a fridge-freezer, the system lasts about 20 years, cost £12,000 to £25,000 and I would have had to spend money on insulating the house to make the system efficient. I know now I couldn’t have fitted a ground source heat pump

However, I did go on a guilt trip – for me, Climate Change became real this year and with kids and grandkids I want to do as much as I can to ensure there is still a planet worth living on in years to come. The UK is committed to reducing emissions to zero by 2050 and phasing out the use of fossil fuels is an important part of that commitment.

There is a Government grant to support renewal of heating systems (RHI) which ends March 2022. The new Government initiative (Heat and Buildings Strategy) starts April 2022; there is a pot of £450m and they are giving grants of £5,000 to install heat pumps (air or ground) to make the cost competitive/similar to installing a new gas boiler. The fund will provide grants for 90,000 installations.

The public are seeing record breaking temperatures around the globe, forest fires destroying vast swathes of land, floods and weird weather patterns. And, if like me, people are open to conversations about how we can do our bit.

If ever there was a time and place for an industry to step up and engage the public it is now. If someone from the industry had spoken to me and answered the questions I had it is quite possible I could have made my decision based on facts instead of “I don’t know what I don’t know”

Yes, there is information on the internet but it isn’t in one easy place to find – or it wasn’t for me! And there are other systems which when thrown into the mix make it all a little more confusing – biomass, air source heat pumps, solar panels, etc – do you need to mix and match?

And then you spot something saying the government is looking at Hydrogen for heating and the research should be concluded by 2026!

This could be the time and opportunity for the green industries to hit the promotion trail and get engaged with the public.

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