An npower funded project will see two historic villages owned by the National Trust attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and energy bills as part of a community led programme. The initiative, which is similar to the government’s Low Carbon Community Challenge, will show how major energy efficiency improvements are achievable in homes of any age – not just modern buildings – with savings possible from the biggest mansion to the average family house.
The low carbon village pilot – supported by £600,000 funding from the National Trust’s energy partner npower – is being trialled at the National Trust owned villages of Coleshill in Oxfordshire and the Wallington Estate in Northumberland. As well as funding the project, npower is also giving advice on effective energy saving tips for tenants of the properties.
The project involves 62 houses at Coleshill and 73 cottages and 14 farms at Wallington, with properties dating from the 1850s and 1750s respectively. Through community engagement, each village will decide what measures to take to reduce their carbon footprints with the added incentive of making savings to their energy bills.
Residents at Coleshill wanted to find out their current energy consumption and carbon emissions as a starting point so that any success could be measured. On assessment, the average carbon footprint for homes and appliances was 7.57 tonnes of CO2 each year, slightly higher than the national average of 6.15 tonnes.
At Wallington, the community’s overall carbon footprint for heating and electricity was 879 tonnes of CO2, equating to 9.5 tonnes of CO2 per property per year. The reason for this higher emission level is because, like a third of all rural areas in the UK, Wallington is off the gas network. The village therefore has to rely on carbon-intensive oil and electricity for heating which pushes up carbon levels as well as the bills.
Celia Robbins, the National Trust’s project manager at Wallington, said: “By introducing our energy efficiency measures and helping people understand their energy use we hope to make a real difference to both people’s pockets and to the environment.
“Installing sheep’s wool loft insulation and improving the efficiency of off-grid electricity generation will reduce Wallington’s carbon footprint by more than 10%
“On advice from npower’s energy advisor, we are also encouraging residents to monitor their electricity with a Smart Meter which shows how much any appliance uses every six seconds. Using the display can be quite a revelation because although electricity is invisible this helps people see exactly how much they use and the associated costs.”