Networked Heat Pumps

A decarbonisation solution for over 60% of UK homes

Networked Heat Pumps provide heating and cooling for multiple properties and are the solution to providing low-carbon heat to entire communities for the lowest cost and grid impact.

Encompassing two or more low-carbon Ground Source Heat Pumps connected to in-street pipework which absorbs heat at a year-round constant 10°C and delivers it to individual heat pumps in people’s homes, Networked Heat Pumps can give millions of homes access to heating that is three times more efficient than gas boilers.

Networked Heat Pumps are perfectly suited for new-build developments, terraced streets, tower blocks and tenements, avoiding the space constraints faced by air source heat pumps making traditional district heating unviable in mid-density housing.

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Kensa’s vision for a 21st Century gas grid equivalent

The methods used to decarbonise and electrify heat in the UK will have profound implications for future power supply and demand.

Research by Element Energy shows that Networked Heat Pumps and heat flexibility could save up to £15.1 billion/year in electricity system costs between now and 2050.

Britain’s annual electricity consumption could be reduced by up to 24 TWh a year in 2050, almost as much as the estimated total annual output of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Kensa is actively working to install Networked Heat Pump solutions across the UK with award-winning heat pump products, market-leading installation delivery services, and innovative funding offers.


How do Networked Heat Pumps work?

Networked Heat Pumps are connected by an Ambient Temperature Heat Network to Thermal Energy Sources from which Shared Ground Arrays harness heat.

How do Networked Heat Pumps work inside a home?

When an individual household calls for heating, hot water, or cooling, the heat pump inside upgrades or downgrades the thermal energy from the network to deliver optimum comfort when needed.

How effective and reliable are Networked Heat Pumps?

Networked heat pumps do not require additional heat sources; the ground source heat pump provides 100% of the property’s needs. They operate efficiently all year round, keeping homes consistently comfortable.

Do Networked Heat Pumps provide independent heating?

A heat pump unit is installed in each property so that end users can control their own heating and energy bills. They can easily switch between energy tariffs and only have to pay for their heat consumption.

Where do Networked Heat Pumps work?

Networked heat pump systems are infinitely scalable, tailored to meet the heat demand and suit the site’s layout.

As networked heat pumps mimic the gas grid, a study by Regen modelled that 80% of UK homes would be suitable to switch.

Networked heat pumps best suit newbuild housing, flats, densely distributed semi-detached homes and terraced housing – property types typically considered ‘hard to decarbonise’.

Networked heat pumps can significantly benefit housing associations, developers and housebuilders within high-volume housing sectors.

Kensa Ground Source Heat Pumps Shoebox Heat Pump District Heating Diagram for Fuel Poverty & Renewable Heat Incentive

Networked ground source heat pumps are an eco-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, a quiet and reliable option against air source heat pumps, and a space-saving, less wasteful solution than central plant.

David Broom, Managing Director, Kensa Contracting

What are the benefits of Networked Heat Pumps?

Higher efficiency

Ground source heat pumps produce 3 to 4kWh of heat energy for every 1kWh of electrical energy, making them 300-400% efficient. According to Which, a typical boiler is only 90% efficient. Read more.

Consistent comfort

Networked heat pumps emit a more constant, ‘ambient’ temperature heat than a boiler (which provides intense bursts of high-temperature heat). This low flow temperature lends itself to underfloor heating or modern, larger surface area radiators.

Easy to install

A networked heat pump is easily installed in an airing cupboard or kitchen cabinet. It can integrate with standard home heating controls, as well as other renewable technologies like solar.


Networked heat pumps have no annual servicing requirements and need minimal maintenance. With a design life of 20 – 25 years for the ground source heat pump, the underground infrastructure can last 100 years.

No combustion

Avoiding the use of flammable gases, networked heat pumps conform to fire safety and building regulations, safely delivering heating and hot water.

Not all electric heating is equal: technologies like networked ground source heat pumps and thermal batteries can provide greater efficiency and flexibility

Aurora Energy Research

How much do Networked Heat Pumps cost?

With Kensa’s ground array funding offers, Networked Ground Source Heat Pumps can cost less than Air Source Heat Pumps.

A report by Element Energy modelled specifically on the most common UK housing type at scale deployment, upfront capital costs are roughly 8% (£900) lower, and annual running costs are 18% (£290/year) lower.

Networked ground source heat pumps have the lowest running costs of any heating system because of their exceptional efficiency. This results in reduced running costs and cheaper energy bills.

Element Energy found that heat pumps are three times more efficient than gas boilers. Read more about how ground source compares to other heating technologies.


Ground source for the price of air source

What funding is available for Networked Heat Pumps?

Contact us to investigate the grants and subsidies available to you, including zero-cost infrastructure through Kensa’s funded ground arrays, bringing to your development the benefits of ground source for the price of air source.


What is split-ownership?

The networked heat pump model allows a unique opportunity to separate the cost of the heat pumps from the ground array – the most expensive aspect of the project – this is called ‘split ownership’.

A report from Regen recognises that ‘split ownership’ business models allow ground source heat pumps to be cost-competitive with air source heat pumps.

External investors like utility companies own the heat network infrastructure. This leaves property owners, developers and/or social landlords responsible for providing only the heat pump and internal distribution system, reducing risk and lowering upfront costs.

The utility can fund and look after the heat network infrastructure, just as utility providers do today for gas and other networks such as water, electricity, data, roads and waste disposal. They can charge connection fees in return if they wish to recoup costs, similar to the gas network standing charge.


Who are Kensa Utilities?

Kensa Utilities Funded Ground Arrays enable house builders, landlords and developers to install ground source heat pumps for the price of air source heat pumps.

Kensa Utilities is an infrastructure asset company that funds, owns, and maintains Shared Ground Arrays and External Ambient Temperature Heat Networks that serve heat pump installations.

Kensa Utilities is the first-ever Networked Heat Pump provider to be registered with the Heat Trust to protect heat network customers and ensure, through regular audits, that standards of heating delivery and customer service are at a high level.

Case study: Longhurst Group New Build Development

56 Kensa heat pumps helped Longhurst Group achieve carbon compliance in their new housing development in Cambridgeshire.

The project utilised funding from Kensa Utilities and used Kensa Contracting for the project delivery.

Read case study: Longhurst Group New Build Development


How can Networked Heat Pumps help achieve Net Zero?

The future of heating and cooling

Helping to achieve zero emissions in the UK by 2050, they are a scalable, sustainable, low-cost and low-carbon alternative to fossil fields and traditional district heating.

No pollution

Heat pumps produce no point-of-use pollution or emissions, so they significantly improve air quality and cut carbon emissions. Analysis by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology found that GSHPs produce 77% less emissions than gas.

Smart cities

Ground source heat pumps with shared ground loop arrays offer unique benefits when incorporated with smart energy grids to balance demand, costs and carbon.

Balancing demand

Networked Heat Pumps support the electrification and decarbonisation of heat, allowing integration with smart energy systems and opportunities for aggregated energy demand.

What is an Ambient Temperature Heat Network?

The ambient temperature heat network acts as a thermal energy supply grid, which circulates low-grade heat sourced from the ground and/or water or waste heat processes around a network of pipes filled with antifreeze fluid, to networked heat pumps.

The heat pumps can either heat a building – lowering the network’s temperature a little – or cool a building – warming the network’s temperature a little. When the temperature fluctuates, the thermal energy sources rebalance the temperature of the network.

Ambient temperature

The term ‘ambient’ is used to describe the temperature in the distribution pipework, which ranges between -5°C to +20°C. The individual networked heat pumps upgrade this to between 50°C and 65°C for heating and hot water in response to demand from a property.

These ‘ambient’ temperatures are significantly lower than the temperatures circulating in a traditional fossil fuel network or central plant. This lowers the risk of heat losses between the pipe and the ground and increases the efficiency of networked heat pumps compared to central plant systems.

What are the advantages of using an Ambient Temperature Heat Network?

Grid-balancing & Load-shifting

The temperature of the ground and/or water is stable all year round. Ground source heat pumps can run at any time of day or night without loss of efficiency or noise disruption. The grid is at its lowest in carbon when there is a high supply of renewables such as wind and solar. These low-carbon periods also tend to correlate with times when electricity is cheapest and can be accessed through dynamic electricity tariffs.

By using smart controls, plus time-of-use tariffs and thermal storage, networked heat pumps can maintain the comfort levels of the property and also lower the carbon intensity and running costs of the system; we call this ‘load-shifting’.

Ground source heat pumps offer unique grid-balancing potential

The Low Carbon Heat Study by Element Energy found that by electrifying the grid via networked heat pumps, the overall required investment in electrical generation and infrastructure will decrease. An alternative study by Aurora concluded that networked ground source heat pumps can bring £40bn savings in grid upgrades to 2050 (relative to a more air source heat pump-heavy scenario).

Installing GSHPs in every British home with a heat pump, rather than in 15% of such homes, would result in savings of 24 TWh per year in 2050. This is roughly equal to the expected annual generation of Hinkley Point C6.

Element Energy

Energy storage

An ambient temperature heat network can balance energy demand and assist load shifting by storing thermal energy for later use, for example, storing waste heat from cooling during the summer in the ground where it can later be utilised for heating in the winter. We call this ‘Inter-seasonal Energy Storage’.

The heat generated by a networked heat pump can also be stored in Phase Change Materials – such as thermal batteries, and also the fabric of a building. A homeowner could recharge their hot water cylinder through the night when demand and price are lowest – ready to use the next day when the home needs it.

Low-cost cooling

Ambient shared ground loops with ground source heat pumps overcome overheating and provide passive coolingWith the climate increasingly getting hotter and heat waves becoming more frequent, the overheating of buildings is becoming a bigger risk. Networked heat pumps can provide low-cost cooling for a comfortable living environment all year round without harming the environment or contributing to overheating.

Passive cooling utilises the fact that the ground temperature is typically lower than the indoor air temperature and can gently lower room temperatures to a comfortable level for a minimal cost. Ground source heat pumps can also provide active cooling by operating in reverse mode and circulating chilled water; however, this comes at a higher cost.

The system allows the heat to be recycled rather than wasted into the atmosphere, as with traditional air conditioning, which is also much more expensive. The excess heat displaced by cooling goes back into the network to recharge the ground array.


Case study: The Mill, Tirion Homes

Working in partnership with Sero Energy and Tirion Homes, Kensa installed passive cooling at The Mill – a newly built urban village on the outskirts of Cardiff.

Passive cooling kept the living rooms cooled at a comfortable 21°C throughout two summer heatwaves, whilst the temperatures in the other non-cooled rooms in the house were recorded at highs of +28°C.


What is a Shared Ground Array?

A Ground Array is the submerged external pipework infrastructure used to transfer heat energy from a thermal energy source into an ambient temperature heat network and back again in an ongoing energy transfer cycle.

Shared Ground Arrays can be utilised for two or more premises, bringing cost, energy and mobilisation-saving benefits compared to single Ground Arrays feeding individual premises.

They can consist of Closed Loop: Boreholes, Slinkies, Pond Mats, or Open Loop: Boreholes. The shared ground arrays can last for 100 years, providing a long-lasting renewable energy utility infrastructure.

Read more

What heat sources can be used with a Shared Ground Array?

Many heat sources can provide and store thermal energy for shared ground arrays. The temperature of these heat sources remains stable 24/7, 365 days a year.

Naturally occurring heat energy is predominantly stored solar energy, which is regularly replenished through direct sunlight and indirectly through rainfall.

Sometimes referred to as ‘shallow geothermal’, this solar energy is different from deep geothermal heat, which is generated from the earth’s core and extracted by digging much deeper underground.

Various man-made sources produce thermal energy, usually waste heat, which can be captured and used as energy boosters to enhance networked heat pumps’ heating and cooling efficiencies.

These include Air conditioning; Data centres; Supermarket refrigerators; Tube lines; Cooling PV panels; and Electricity transformers.

Read more about heat sources

How are Networked Heat Pumps different to traditional district heating?

Ambient temperature heat networks differ from traditional heat networks because each premises has its own ground source heat pump, which upgrades heat from the network only when it is needed in the property. This brings multiple benefits:

No central plant room

In many traditional district heating systems, the heat and hot water are generated at a centralised location. As well as taking up lots of space, these can be energy-wasting, financially front-loaded systems. Networked Heat Pumps do not require large, unsightly plant rooms and complex controls.

Instead, householders have their own heat pumps with simple controls. Besides minimal, straightforward maintenance, there is no mandatory servicing requirement thanks to the safe, non-combustion technology.

No heat losses or overheating

The heat generated by a central plant is continually circulated inside the building at high temperatures. This leads to heat losses and overheating through the distribution pipework, particularly in risers and communal areas, which is wasteful and costly for occupiers.

Networked heat pump systems are more efficient, as high-grade heat is only generated when needed by the ground source heat pump inside the home. The distribution pipework circulates low-grade ambient temperature heat and, therefore, does not suffer from heat losses, combatting overheating in buildings.

No metering or split-billing

Central plants require split billing, highly specialised servicing and the restriction of a single energy provider. However, with a networked heat pump system, the individual heat pumps are connected to the electricity supply of each individual property. This means each occupier pays for their heating via their own electricity bill and has freedom of choice over which supplier and which tariff to use.

Risk mitigation

With an individual heat pump in each dwelling, a networked heat pump system is better safeguarded against whole system failures because, if one heat pump goes down, just one residence is affected. This is as opposed to in a central plant where the whole network is affected, and to prevent this, they need a system backup.

Heating efficiency through the generations

Fifth Generation Heating

The lower the temperature of heat distributed through a district heating network, the higher the system’s efficiency. Generations of district heating have evolved as temperatures circulating the district network reduce, thus improving efficiencies.

Ambient Temperature Heat Networks with Networked Heat Pumps are sometimes called ‘Fifth Generation District Heating’ as they are the latest, most innovative version of district heating.


  • First Generation District Heating: Steam (120°C)
  • Second Generation District Heating: Boiling water (95°C to 100°C)
  • Third Generation District Heating: Hot water (70°C)
  • Fourth Generation District Heating: Low-temperature flow (50°C to 60°C with a return of 35-40°C)
  • Fifth Generation District Heating: Ambient temperature flow (-5°C to 20°C with heat pump boost)

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