Heritage meets high tech
As part of a major conservation programme, one of Britain’s finest historic houses, Castle Howard, is combining heritage and high tech following the installation of two 100kW Dimplex ground source heat pumps, which has seen energy costs reduced by nearly 90%.
The programme was introduced to help secure a more sustainable future for the leading visitor attraction which is set in spectacular Yorkshire countryside and provided the location for the lavish Brideshead Revisited TV series and film. Key objectives were to target and slash the annual £40,000 fuel bill, improve the carbon footprint and reduce overall expenditure to allow more investment in conservation.
The radical overhaul at the 142,400sq ft house and the Grade 1 registered park and gardens involved the replacement of the old heating and hot water systems with the latest Dimplex heat pump technology. Measurements taken over just three full winter months of operation, since the heat pumps were switched on in October 2009, have shown the average fuel bills drop from around £4,690 per month to just £644.
Energy and conservation are at the top of the agenda for forward-thinking owner Simon Howard and his team who are very pleased with the early payback results.
“We’re delighted to see that our investment in the future and the installation of heat pumps is already paying off so positively. They have only been operating for a few months and we’re really excited about the results so far as it ticks all the boxes for lower carbon, lower fuel bills, reliability and an expected life of 25-plus years,” explains Simon Howard.
Dimplex installer-partner Ecovision Systems devised an innovative solution using two Dimplex high power 100kW SI 100 TE ground source heat pumps, with a projected payback of just six years. The six month long £200k project received a significant level of grant support from Dimplex via the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target scheme, as well as an interest free loan of nearly £60,000 from the Carbon Trust.
Plans for a fast track installation were finalised during 2009 and the three-acre lake which is designed to allow the glorious house to be reflected on its surface, was drained for the installation of the coiled pipes which are then connected via 1m deep pipes to the basement in the house. The system provides hot water and heating for the main house, the estate office and four staff residential flats, generating four kilowatt hours of heat for every kilowatt hour of electricity the heat pump uses.
Simon continues: “The costs associated with running Castle Howard over the last 10 years have risen and although we’d taken steps to reduce our fuel consumption from 85,000 litres of oil to around 51,000 litres, this was just not enough. We wanted to reduce our running costs and make a positive contribution to improving the environment, with additional opportunities for educational purposes.
“The Ecovision and Dimplex technology, although relatively new to the UK, is well established and it’s proving its worth already in more ways than one. As well as the energy savings, we’re making the most of the consumer, industry and media interest, as a boost for our position as a leading attraction in the UK.”
The conservation management plan has already scooped a prestigious national award from the Royal Town Planning Institute and it was developed by the Castle Howard team in conjunction with English Heritage, English Nature and Ryedale District Council. The plan included a full investigation of the alternatives to oil, with extensive feasibility studies, including one undertaken by the Carbon Trust.