Is your business looking at ways to reduce costs and step up its green credentials? Ground source heat pumps are providing businesses with a viable heating alternative at considerably lower cost. And with a low environmental impact, it could be just the option you are looking for.
How does it work? Basically, geothermal heat is extracted from the ground your building is standing on, and is used to moderate the temperature of your building using a pump system.
So, what exactly are ground source heat pumps, how do they work, and why would you choose this heating method for your office premises?
What are ground source heat pumps?
A ground source heat pump is a form of energy supply used to heat buildings. Pumps are used to extract heat from the ground during winter and transfer that heat into buildings. They can also be used in reverse to extract heat from buildings in summer and transfer heat back into the ground.
How do ground source heat pumps work?
This method of heating uses a borehole or shallow trenches, and a system of pipes to extract heat from the ground. Less commonly, pumps use a pond, a lake or the sea. Heat collecting pipes are set up in a closed loop, containing water and a little antifreeze. The longer the loop, the more energy can be extracted. The stored energy from the ground is then used to provide heating and domestic hot water. Heat from the ground is absorbed into the pipes and transferred to the building using a heat exchanger.
Can any building have a ground source heat pump?
Not all buildings can benefit from ground source heat pumps. Geothermal energy is site specific. Ground source heat pumps are particularly suited to rural businesses and organisations with land available, though vertical boreholes are possible and only require a small surface footprint. Ground source heat pumps are also most effective in well-insulated buildings, though that doesn’t rule out older buildings.
5 reasons why ground source heat pumps are ideal for office premises
- Low heating costs
Ground source heat pumps are cost-effective because less energy is needed to generate the same amount of heat. This method also shields a business from volatile fossil fuel prices.
Although ground source heat pumps cost more to install than conventional heating systems, they are considerably cheaper to run. The Government also offers incentives for switching to a ground source heat pump through the commercial Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. The scheme offers paybacks to businesses every quarter for up to 20 years for switching to more responsible, renewable energy sources. The amount you receive will depend on the type, size and complexity of your heating system. Typically, businesses can expect a 12 per cent Return On Investment (ROI) year on year for the lifespan of the heat pump.
- Low carbon heating alternative
Ground source heat pumps significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to conventional heating systems. This heating method helps businesses with environmental policies such as ISO 14001. It also offers positive publicity for your business as being a socially responsible organisation.
- Reliable heating
Heat pumps are low maintenance and reliable once installed. The heat pump comes in a factory-sealed unit, and has a typical lifespan of 20-25 years. A ground source heat pump system offers very high efficiency and low running costs. The only energy used by a ground source heat pump is a small amount of electricity to power the compressor and the circulation pumps.
- Established technology
Ground source heat pump systems are common in the USA, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. The principles behind ground source heat pumps were first described by Lord Kelvin in the 1850s. They were first used commercially more than 50 years ago, and since then have been developed to greatly improve their efficiency.
- You don’t need planning permission
In most cases, installation of a ground source heat pump doesn’t require planning permission, as it falls under the remit of permitted development. Always check with your local planning office if you are considering switching to a ground source heat pump for your office premises.