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Historic country house places trust in heat pumps

Kingston Lacy ©James Dobson, National Trust

UK: A ground-source heat pump system has replaced inefficient oil boilers at a 17th-century country house in Dorset.

One of the most opulent country houses in the south of England, Kingston Lacy was built to resemble a Venetian palace and is renowned for its remarkable collection of paintings. 

The four Viessmann heat pumps, totalling 160kW, replace two oil boilers which used around 28,000 litres of oil per year. The project is expected to save over 57 tonnes of CO2 a year.

©James Dobson, National Trust

The old oil tank has been replaced by almost 6,000m of underground pipes in 32, 180m deep boreholes in an overflow carpark. Specialists spent two years conducting extensive archaeological and ecological surveys to ensure the protection of the historic parkland.

The system was installed by Surrey-based Isoenergy as part of owners the National Trust’s ongoing renewable energy drive.

As part of the project, a new electricity supply and new substation was installed to ensure there was sufficient electricity to power the heat pumps and the house. A new custom plant room was built next to the substation to house the heat pumps and required tanks.

Importantly, the heat pump will also improve conservation of the building and its collection by stabilising the temperature and humidity levels. The house includes one of the UK’s finest collections of paintings, with works by Titian, Velazquez and Rubens, and an extravagant Spanish Room that the estate’s creator, William John Bankes, designed from exile.

Project manager Owen-Griffith with one of the ornate radiator covers inside Kingston Lacy. ©James Dobson, National Trust

“Even in the most historically significant settings like Kingston Lacy, it’s possible to integrate these modern technologies while maintaining the utmost care for the building and the grounds. Not only will the heat pump reduce the property’s dependency on fossil fuels, but it’ll create a safer environment and improve conditions for the amazing collection items here. There are so many advantages,” said the National Trust’s lead renewable heating project manager Owen Griffith.

The house includes one of the UK’s finest collections of paintings. ©James Dobson, National Trust

“Magnificent buildings like these have been around for centuries, but their heating systems have evolved – from open fires to coal boilers and then oil boilers, with many energy innovations along the way. This is simply the next step in Kingston Lacy’s history and preservation,” he added.

This project was part funded by Low Carbon Dorset as part of the European Regional Development Fund.

Kingston Lacy was designated as a Grade I listed building in 1958 and the park and gardens are included in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens at Grade II. The house was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1982.

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