A ground source heat pump is a central heating and / or cooling system that pumps heat to or from the ground. It uses the earth as a heat source (in the winter) or a heat sink (in the summer). This design takes advantage of the moderate temperatures in the ground to boost efficiency and reduce the operational costs of heating and cooling systems, and may be combined with solar heating to form a geosolar system with even greater efficiency. Ground source heat pumps harvest heat absorbed at the Earth’s surface form solar energy.
Heat pumps are typically more efficient at heating than pure electric heaters, even when extracting heat from cold winter air. Like a cave, the shallow ground temperature is warner than the air above during the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. A ground source heat pump extracts ground heat in the winter (for heating) and transfers heat back into the ground in the summer (for cooling).
Ground source heat pumps are among the most energy efficient technologies for providing heating. They are particularly well matched to underfloor heating systems which only require warm temperatures of 40oC to work well. Thus they are ideal for open plan offices or open plan living areas. Using large surfaces such as floors, as opposed to radiators, distributes the heat more uniformly and allows for a lower water temperature.
Combination heat pumps are available that can produce forced air and circulating water simultaneously and individually. These systems are largely being used for houses that have a combination of air and liquid conditioning needs, for example, central air conditioning and pool heating.
Realpower would recommend GSHPs to properties where gas may not be available and with a footprint large enough for ground collectors / bore holes. It offers a good alternative to LPG, oil and solid fuel.