The National Trust says net zero targets should not “get lost” in today’s cost of living and energy crises.
The Trust, the UK’s largest heritage conservation charity, has renewed its ambition to reach net zero by 2030.
Will Handford, director of the trust’s renewable energy programme, told Sky News he was ‘halfway through’ his own plan to cut carbon emissions and the energy crisis made those targets ‘incredibly relevant’ “.
“Things obviously bring energy to the forefront of people’s minds,” Mr Handford said.
“But it’s the same for us as it is for people’s homes: to reduce those costs and try to reduce costs, you have to first try to reduce energy consumption.
“It’s the same principle in any property, whatever its size: check the insulation of the attic, the curtains and the double glazing.”
The National Trust has worked on more than 130 renewable energy projects over the past nine years, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and establishing its own green energy supply.
Speke Hall, a 500-year-old Tudor mansion in Liverpool, has replaced its traditional heating system with the installation of a geothermal heat pump.
The pump, installed in a basement on the property, means the house is no longer dependent on oil or gas and any remaining electricity demand is supplied by power from a nearby wind farm.
Simon Osborne, the property’s general manager, admits he “needed convincing” that 21st century technology would work in a historic building, but says it was “remarkable”.
“We have a duty to take care of these old buildings, and now we can better control its climate, as well as reduce our reliance on fossil fuels,” Mr Osborne said.
“All of this technology is scalable – it’s a big system here because of the size of the property – but it’s the exact same system that would be in a residential home.
“And if it works in a 500-year-old house, it could work just about anywhere.”
The UK government, which has a net zero target in 2050, has acknowledged that heat pumps will be a major technology to help reduce the residential carbon footprint, but acknowledges, for now, that the units are currently too expensive.
In the short term, it intends to make available £1billion of funding for home insulation projects as it seeks to cut energy use by 15% by 2030.