Just as the nations of the world are increasingly turning to renewable sources as a way to secure energy dependence, faced with huge price hikes from the energy companies, homeowners are more willing than ever to explore ways of going green and getting off the grid.
Whilst solar panels already adorn the roofs of houses all over the country, ground source heat pumps are a relatively new alternative to traditional sources of energy. However, they are becoming incredibly popular within new developments and offer a number of benefits.
The Key Benefits of a Ground Source Heat Pump
The introduction of a heat pump will greatly reduce the need for direct electric heating within homes and businesses. A ground source heat pump is also a far more environmentally friendly option than traditional sources of energy such as gas, oil and LPG. The system will require a source of electricity to operate; however, the installation of solar panels in conjunction with a ground pump will provide a completely carbon-neutral source of renewable energy.
Many people are put off the idea of having their own source of energy because of the size and unsightly nature of large storage tanks. People also wrestle with the concern of having to store large amounts of combustible substances close to a home or business; as is the case with oil and LPG. Ground pumps sit below the surface and require absolutely no potentially dangerous fuels as part of their operation. They also have few moving parts, so the potential for breakdown or injury is extremely low.
How the System Works
The technology used in these systems is based on the principles used in domestic refrigerators. A liquid refrigeration compound moves through external evaporator coils at a low temperature. Liquid from the ground section then passes through the unit and the heat from it is transferred to the refrigeration compound; this process causes the compound to boil and evaporate. A compressor then takes in the vapour and increases the temperature further. The vapour continues on to a heat-exchange system where its heat is transferred to coils before being converted back to a liquid; a process which involves the release of a significant amount of latent heat into the air around the heat-exchange system. The refrigeration agent is then sent back to the start and the process starts all over again. The heat created is transferred to the property’s heating and hot water systems.
Which Properties are Suitable?
Installing a ground source heat pump will benefit the environment immediately, but will usually more than a decade to pay for itself through savings alone. This investment is definitely only for people who are thinking about the long-term financial benefits on offer. The most efficient systems will require a large garden for installation. People with smaller gardens will still be able to take advantage of these systems; however, a deeper excavation will be necessary in order to bury all of the coils vertically. This process of installation will usually be far more expensive and may make the investment an unsound one.
It is also worth asking an independent expert to check the suitability of a property for this type of heating system. The levels of heat it produces are constant but will be far lower than those possible with traditional radiators. Homes should be well insulated and have alternative heating arrangements for the coldest periods of the year. These systems work extremely well with underfloor heating which people often choose to install at the same time as a ground source heat pump.
Steve Waller writes about a wide range of environmental issues, from alternative energy to conservation. For more, be sure to visit his blog, GreenSteve.com.