A heat pump extracts energy from renewable sources such us ground, water and the air.

A Water source heat pump uses a body of water to extract heat and provide energy to heat your home. The working fluid in the pipes uses the heat from the water source to create useful energy. The working fluid is then compressed to give heat off at a higher temperature. Water Pumps are less common than other types as they do rely on a body of water. Here we will focus on the Air and Ground Source heat pumps.


Ground Source

A ground source heat pump transfers heat from the ground outside your home to heat your radiators or underfloor heating. It can also heat water stored in a hot water cylinder for your hot taps and showers. Thermal transfer fluid (TTF), a mixture of water and antifreeze flows around a loop of pipe, buried in your garden or outdoor space. This loop could either be a long or coiled pipe buried in trenches.

The ground can maintain temperatures of 10-12°C all year, which means the average ground temperature in winter will always be significantly warmer than the average air temperature.

Air Source

An air source heat pump (AHSP) is installed outside the house. The pump captures heat from the surrounding air outdoors and releases it inside the home. Air source heat pumps consume electricity as they operate but when compared to other types of heating they are more energy efficient. Heat pumps can both heat up and cool your home depending on the time of the year. They essentially work like a fridge in reverse. In the winter, they make outside air colder by extracting its latent heat and bringing it into the home. In the summer, the same thing happens but in the opposite direction; the inside of the house is like a fridge where heat has to be removed and pushed outside.


Advantages and disadvantages

Ground Source


✅ Advantages

          • Low running costs
          • Energy efficient
          • Low carbon heating
          • Provides cooling and heating
          • Eligible for grants
          • Constant and inexhaustible
          • Virtually silent
          • Increases property value

❌ Disadvantages

      • High installation costs
      • Efficiency affected by soil type
      • Tricky to install in retrofits

 Air Source


          • Low carbon footprint
          • Saves money on energy bills
          • Eligible for RHI (Renewable Heat Energy)
          • Can be used for heating and cooling
          • Can be used for space heating and hot water
          • Easy installation process
          • Low maintenance
          • Long lifespan

❌ Disadvantages

      • Lower heat supply compared to oil and gas boilers, so larger radiators would be needed
      • They perform better with underfloor heating or warm air heating and work more efficiently when coupled with larger radiators
      • They can take quite some time to heat up, leaving your home cold in the mornings
      • Air source heat pumps are not the best option if you live on gas mains
      • They need electricity to be powered if there is no access to solar energy or wind power
      • Can be noisy
      • Need to run constantly during the winter, which can make the noise worse and cost higher
Before considering any heat pump it is vital to consider Fabric First

A ‘fabric first’ approach to building design involves maximising the performance of the components and materials that make up the building fabric itself, before considering the use of mechanical or electrical building services systems…


……..to be continued.

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