What is Ground Source Heating

A look at how ground source heating works and how it can lower your fuel bills

Ground Source Heating diagram by Slavo Valigursky (via Shutterstock).

Ground Source Heating diagram by Slavo Valigursky (via Shutterstock).

You may have come across a method of heating known as geothermal energy. On an industrial scale, it has been used for power stations. The USA, India, and Iceland have substantial numbers of geothermal power plants. Ground source heating is slightly different to geothermal energy, though has similar principles. On a much smaller scale, it is possible for domestic customers.

Ground Source Heating (also known as Ground Source Heat Pumps or GSHP) taps into the heat absorbed by the Earth’s surface from solar energy. Heat pumps are drilled to six metres below ground level. Water wells as well as terra firma can be used to tap into this energy source.

Ground source heating can be used to heat radiators, underfloor or warm air heating systems, and hot water. They deliver heat at much lower temperatures over longer periods. To make the best use of your system, the heating needs to on all day.

As it harnesses the Earth’s surface, carbon emissions are drastically reduced. There is no gas, oil, or solid fuel to burn. As no deliveries are needed, more savings in CO2 emissions are made (due to the lack of motorised transport needed to deliver your fuel source). If ground source heating is used to replace your existing system, cheaper fuel bills after the initial investment.

All of the above aspects are important, as far as combating global warming and saving money is concerned. In the UK, heating amounts for 45% of our energy consumption, and 30% of our carbon emissions. We also spend well over £30 billion a year on energy for heating alone. These can also be saved by a comprehensive programme of energy efficiency initiatives, which is another argument for another time.