• James Kinch

What are ground and air source heat pumps?

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

As covered by the Government's ECO scheme, ground and air source heat pumps are available to be claimed that may be fully or partially funded. These pumps are a newer technology that utilise renewable energy in the ground and air rather than conventional boilers which use themselves to produce heat. So what exactly are these heat pumps, how do they work and how are they more energy efficient?

Ground source and air source heat pumps side by side with a question mark in the middle.

Ground and Air Heat Source Pumps

These types of heaters use the Earth's natural, renewable resources to provide warmth in a home.

Ground Heat Source

The ground's heat source comes as geothermal energy. Geothermal is the heat of the earth (the planet's core is extremely hot and it passes through the other layers to the crust, the outmost layer). The pipe is laid around a house or in a garden typically either horizontally or vertically in the ground and it collects the natural heat energy which is pumped up to a compressor. The compressor then compresses the low-pressure air to high-pressure air. This is naturally heated from 5 degrees C to ~65 degrees C.

Air Heat Source

The air heat source pump takes in air at low pressure. These pumps are contained within a box, placed on the exterior of the house. Typically, they are placed at ground level, however, they can be higher up. The pump takes in air at low pressure which is then compressed into high pressure.


Once the vapour is compressed, it is fed into a water tank where it heats up pipes that heat the house. This hot water is then fed out through a valve back to the other tank where it cools, restarting the cycle.

Diagram showing a heat pump and how it works.

Pros and Cons of Heat Pumps


With the Government's ECO scheme, you might be able to get a grant to partially fund or fully fund the installation of a heat pump.

While you need electricity to generate the power in order to pump the heat, your return on heat is much higher than other conventual heating methods.

It's very environmentally friendly! If you are someone that is particularly concerned about their carbon footprint, looking to increase their EPC rating or looking to save money overall, a heat pump is a great idea.


Installation costs can be high. The average cost according to Which? is £10,000 to £18,000 (this could be offset by the ECO scheme - make sure to check if you're eligible for a free heat pump while you can).

Planning permission may be needed for ground source heat pumps depending on how the pipe is laid.

Air pumps can be noisy - however, this won't be a huge issue if it's placed away from the garden.

Am I eligible for a free heat pump?

The best way to check if you are eligible for a free pump to be installed in your home is to either use BOB, The Broad Oak Bot who will guide you through the process or contact us with our free insulation form. The pump could save you money on your energy bill!

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