Our weekly Real Estate blog addresses a range of property issues for homeowners, landlords and tenants in Scotland.
For people who are keen to make more eco-friendly adjustments to their homes, there are a number of options – including installing a ground source heat pump.
For those less familiar with the mechanics of a ground source heat pump (GSHP), it creates energy by absorbing heat from the earth's natural temperature into a liquid circulating through a loop of underground pipes. The heated liquid is then pumped into the home by electricity to provide heating or hot water.
Whether a GSHP is the right choice for you depends on a few factors. These are:
1. external ground conditions and space;
2. your home's energy efficiency and heating system; and
3. the cost of installation.
As the system requires space to harness underground heat, consider how much external land is available. The most common method is the installation of horizontal pipes in shallow trenches, of roughly 30-40 metres for a three-bedroom house. However, if short on space, vertical boreholes reaching depths of 15-100 metres can be used, although may be costly.
Secondly, the GSHP works best when producing heat at a lower temperature than traditional boilers. This means it works better in homes that are well insulated. Underfloor heating is also recommended as this requires lower temperature heat to maintain comfortable temperatures in the property.
Finally, consider your budget as GSHPs are expensive to install – with costs easily surpassing £10,000 for an average UK home. However, they are cheap to run, easy to maintain, and can last 20 to 30 years. Although the system needs electricity to run, GSHPs can be highly energy efficient, producing three or four units of heat for every unit of electricity used.
GSHPs can qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Under the domestic RHI, the owner of the heating system is paid a quarterly tariff for seven years post-installation, to compensate for the additional upfront cost of installing the GSHP.
Installation of a GSHP is usually a permitted development. However, if your home is a listed building or within a conservation area, planning permission may be required. Check the title to your property for any impediments to the installation of the GSHP, such as minerals below the surface of the property belonging to a third party, or title conditions that would prohibit its installation.