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1 October 2020

Get the most from your ground source heat pump

Find out what you can expect from a ground source heat pump, including top tips on how to get the most from your system.
Black ground source heat pump 457522
TM
Tom Morgan

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

The EST monitored 54 ground source heat pumps and 29 air source heat pumps in UK properties between 2008 and 2013. The trial enabled it 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 EST's trial to help you decide whether a heat pump is right for your home. Scroll down to read tips on getting the best from your ground source heat pump system.

Ground source heat pump trial – key findings

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

The EST recommends 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 felt that the instructions for using their heat pump were complicated, and this had a knock-on impact on the performance of their pump.

What to expect from a heat pump-powered system

If you're thinking of installing a heat pump, it's good to have a sense of what changes will take effect. For example, if you're using radiators, expect them to feel warm rather than hot – heat pumps produce lower temperatures than a boiler.

Take the following factors into account:

  • Your home may take longer to heat up.
  • 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 meet 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 and a demo from the installer, and check you have a user manual.
  • Check the installer's credentials – 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 source or air source heat pump

Planning on investing in an air source heat pump? These tips will help you get the best from your new system:

  • 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 whether you or they should adjust it if you’re not warm enough.
  • Monitor how much energy you’re using – this way, you'll 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 – this means electricity used to run the pump and compressor costs less.
  • Follow any maintenance checks recommended by your installer – the Ground Source Heat Pump Association says these should be minimal, and there is no need for safety checks.

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.