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  • Elite Renewables

Warm House, Cool Planet: The Best Heat Pumps for Homes

Updated: Apr 12


As we look towards the future of our planet, a major consideration will be how we can heat our homes whilst preserving the health of the earth. A global overconsumption of fossil fuels in recent decades has plunged our planet into a climate emergency, where an excess of carbon emissions trapped in the atmosphere has contributed to global warming. This is a destructive process which destroys homes, habitats and living standards throughout the World.


Fortunately, renewable energy initiatives have allowed the UK to take notable steps towards a greener future, where it is entirely possible to meet our current energy needs in a more sustainable way. Solar panels, hydroelectric power and wind turbines are just some of the methods currently being used to supplement our energy supply in order to cut carbon emissions and reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels.


Heat pumps are another technological innovation that can provide sustainable energy to our homes. In winter, these pumps extract heat from the ground or the air outside and move it indoors, where they can carry out this process in reverse during the summer to provide a cooling effect. This occurs as part of a renewable cycle which produces few or zero carbon emissions, meaning heat pumps are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional power sources.


Read on to find out more about the two main types of heat pumps, with a look at the pros and cons of each option.


Ground Source Heat Pumps


The Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) is a popular home heating option, which absorbs 

heat from the ground in order to transfer it into a chosen building. This ground heat can then be used for domestic heating or to provide a hot water supply.


How Do They Work?


Also known as geothermal heat pumps, these systems consist of a series of pipes called 

ground collectors, which are installed horizontally into underground trenches. Alternatively, these can be positioned into vertical boreholes at around 100 metres deep generally, with some of our projects going as far as 250m in depth. At this level, the ground remains at a constant temperature all year round, measuring around 10-12°C.


A refrigerant or water fluid is then circulated through these ground collectors, which absorbs the heat from the ground and draws it into the heat pump. This energy is passed through a heat exchanger, which allows heat to be transferred to internal systems such as radiators and hot water cylinders. The fluid is then passed through an expansion valve once its heat energy has been transferred, which cools the fluid and allows the process to continue.


The Pros & Cons


As with any heating system, there are a variety of benefits and drawbacks of using a Ground Source Heat Pump to warm your home. These include:


Pros:


Energy Efficiency - Ground Source Heat Pumps are an energy efficient option for home heating, as they depend on the stable temperature of the ground to operate. This means that they operate well all year round, without using lots of energy sourced from fossil fuels.


Environmental Benefits - As Ground Source Heat Pumps operate using geothermal energy, they generally do not produce carbon emissions as they heat your home. This means they can help you to achieve a small carbon footprint whilst saving you money on your energy bills.


Low Maintenance - Another benefit of Ground Source Heat Pumps is that they are a low 

maintenance installation option compared to traditional HVAC systems. They tend to operate well over a long period, where their prolonged lifespan can save you money on system replacement costs.


Cons:


High Initial Cost - Unfortunately Ground Source Heat Pumps are initially more expensive than other heating options due to the digging into the ground that is required. This 

investment will pay off over time, although the cost may put off some homeowners from 

making the switch.


Space Requirements - Another negative surrounding Ground Source Heat Pumps is that 

lots of land space is required to install the underground system. This could be difficult to 

obtain in busy urban areas, where adverse soil conditions could also prevent an installation.


Complex Installation - Ground Source Heat Pumps can also be more difficult to install compared to alternative heating systems. The drilling and digging work required can be invasive, where professional expertise is required for a successful installation.


Air Source Heat Pumps


An alternative to a geothermal pump would be the Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP), where these systems are designed to extract thermal energy from the air instead of from the ground.


How Do They Work?


In general, an Air Source Heat Pump is designed to extract heat from the air outside a 

property and then boost it to a higher temperature for use inside the home. Within this 

category there are two main types of pump, namely the Air-to-Water and the Air-to-Air.


Air-to-Water Heat Pumps extract heat from the external air and direct it into a wet central 

heating system, where this works in a similar way to gas heating. This heat will be at a lower temperature than that provided by traditional methods, so large radiators or floor heating 

may be required to combat this. As such Air-to-Water technology suits homes that are 

already well insulated and energy efficient, such as new builds.


In contrast, an Air-to-Air Heat Pump works by taking heat from the air outside and directing it into your home through a system of fans. As such, this kind of technology can be used to heat your interior but it cannot be used to power a hot water system. This is also currently not an accepted method of heating if homeowners want to take advantage of the government Grant BUS.


The Pros & Cons


As with any kind of heating technology, the Air Source Heat Pump can bring with it a variety of pros and cons, where these should be considered before you book an installation. Some points to weigh up include:


Pros:


Energy Efficiency - Air Source Heat Pumps can provide a high level of energy efficiency 

compared to traditional heating technology, as they extract heat from the air outside, which is essentially a renewable resource. Some electrical input may be required to boost heating levels, but this would be minimal compared to other heating options.


Low Carbon Emissions - Another benefit of using an Air Source Heat Pump is that they 

produce a minimal amount of carbon emissions compared to traditional gas or electric 

heating alternatives. If electricity is used to support these pumps, then this can also come from renewable sources to boost the sustainable potential of your system.


Versatility - Air Source Heat Pumps are also known for their versatility, where these 

systems are capable of both heating and cooling a home. As such, this technology is ideal for properties located in areas that deal with extremes of temperature throughout the year.


Cons:


Temperature Dependency - Although Air Source Heat Pumps do work well in winter, their efficiency may decrease in very cold weather, meaning you may have to invest in a 

supporting heat source as a backup.


Installation Costs - In general Air Source Heat Pumps are cheaper to install than Ground 

Source systems, as no deep trenches need to be dug. Despite this, a relatively high upfront payment is still required, though this could be alleviated by government subsidies.


Noise Levels - Another drawback of installing an Air Source Heat Pump is that you may 

have to deal with the noise produced by the outdoor unit. Systems today are generally 

quieter and more efficient than they used to be, but you may still find your pump disruptive if you are unused to it.


Elite Renewables: Ground & Air Source Heat Pump Installations For Your Home


At Elite Renewables, our expert team can help you to find the perfect low emissions heating system for your property, helping you to build a more energy efficient home. Our industry expertise has been recognised by the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE), so you can trust that you’re in good hands.


Beyond heat pumps, we can also advise you on solar energy and EV charging point 

installations as you strive to make your property more environmentally friendly. Simply get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.


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