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Ground source heat pumps explained

Get the most from your ground source heat pump

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Get the most from your ground source heat pump

Find out what you can expect from a ground source heat pump, including top tips from experts on how to get the most from your heat pump.

In order to investigate how well air source heat pumps and ground source heat pumps perform, the Energy Saving Trust ran a trial on 83 different heat pumps installed in the UK.

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) monitored 54 ground source heat pumps and 29 air source heat pumps in UK properties between 2008 and 2013. The trial enabled the EST to identify which factors affect how well a heat pump works, and to better understand how households are actually using heat pump technology. 

You can use the results of the Energy Saving Trust's trial to help you decide whether a heat pump is right for your home; scroll down to read tips to get the best from your ground source heat pump system.

Whether or not you get a ground source heat pump, it's worth making sure you're on the cheapest energy deal for you. You can use our independent switching site, Which? Switch, to compare gas and electricity prices.

Ground source heat pump trial – key findings

The trials found that, correctly installed and operated, heat pumps can perform to a very high standard in UK homes. During the trial, the EST monitored heat pump installations, the the  their performance in homes and gathered feedback from owners.

The EST recommended that you should consider a heat pump if you live in a new-build home, or a well-insulated property that can’t access the gas network.

But if found that many heat pump owners found the instructions for using their heat pump were complicated, and this had a knock-on impact on the performance of their heat pump.

What to expect from a heat pump-powered system

  • Your home may take longer to heat up.
  • If you're using radiators, expect them to feel warm rather than hot – heat pumps produce lower temperatures than a boiler. Heat pumps are better suited to underfloor heating.
  • You'll probably need to have your heat pump on for more hours a day than you would with a boiler.
  • You might need a separate electric heater to help provide all your heating and hot water needs.
  • The heating controls that come with a heat pump can be complicated – insist on easy-to-use controls, a demo from the installer, and check you have a user manual.
  • Check the credentials of the ground source heat pump installer you're using – they should be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, be able to design a system specifically suited to your property and offer an after-care service.

Get the best from your ground of air source heat pump

Follow these tips to get the best from your ground source heat pump:

  • Make sure you are confident in using the controls. Some controllers are designed to automatically adjust to seasonal temperature changes so check with your installer if you or they should adjust it if you’re not warm enough.
  • Monitor how much energy you’re using so you know whether your heat pump is as efficient as your installer estimated. If it isn’t, you may need to have your system adjusted.
  • Switch to a cheaper electricity tariff so that electricity used to run the pump and compressor costs less. Our independent energy comparison site Which? Switch includes 100% renewable electricity suppliers, if this is important to you.
  • Follow any maintenance checks recommended by your installer. But the Ground Source Heat Pump Association says these should be minimal and there is no need for safety checks.

See our guides on solar panels and air source heat pumps to understand more about how they work.