Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Ancient castle uses solar power to cut electric bills

DUNSTER Castle has become the National Trust’s first grade one listed property to start using solar energy.
The castle now has solar panels which should produce about one-fifth of all its electricity needs, helping to make the thousand-year-old building more sustainable.
The trust has been pursuing a policy of using renewable energy in its historic properties to show how green energy sources could be used on conservation sites without affecting their character.
The Dunster Castle panels, which cost £55,000, cannot be seen by visitors on the ground and they can be easily removed.
The trust expects to save about £550 a year on its electricity bill for the castle.
A National Trust spokesman said: “We want all of our properties, wherever appropriate, to examine the option of using renewable energy sources and we hope to help other people and businesses to do the same.”
The castle is currently shrouded in scaffolding as it undergoes a £900,000 restoration of its roof.
The work, which began in May, 2006, is not expected to be completed until the summer and has already more than doubled from its original estimated cost of £400,000.
The additional expense was incurred when initial investigations revealed problems with rainwater run off.
Engineers found that structural changes in the 19th Century had not allowed for adequate size gullies and guttering, resulting in water seeping into the roof structure and in turn threatening the contents and fabric of the building.
An infestation of deathwatch beetles was also discovered in the roof space.
The roof restoration is being jointly funded by the National Trust and English Heritage.
Dunster Castle had been in the Luttrell family for 600 years before it was given to the National Trust in 1976.

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