Heat pumps have been in existence since the early 1900’s in the form of other systems, but with using the same technology. Refrigerators and air conditioning systems use a similar technology to heat pumps but it was not until around the 1970’s when heat pumps were introduced into residential properties. Ground source heat pumps have been used in the USA and Northern Europe for many years and provide a very reliable and effective heating solution comparable to conventional fossil fuelled systems.
Although it has taken some time for heat pumps to be understood by homeowners, times are changing and in the UK heat pumps are now a proven technology in an ever growing market place. Heat pumps work by utilising the natural heat energy produced by the sun. This energy is absorbed into the earth’s surface which acts as a giant heat store. The ground loop array or ground collector, which is the buried pipe, absorbs this low temperature heat from the surrounding ground and transports this heat to the heat pump. The ground loop or heat collectors which carry a glycol/antifreeze mix can be installed using different methods. Ground source heat pumps can use various heat collectors such as pipe laid horizontally in the ground or vertically in a borehole. Heat can be obtained from rivers, streams, ponds, the sea or water wells – in theory wherever there is a medium of heat or a heat source, a heat pump can be utilised.