The National Trust has announced it is to install a 300kW biomass boiler at Ickworth House which will supply all of its heating needs.
The project is part of five pilot schemes costing a total of £3.5 million, that the National Trust is to invest in over the next year.
If successful the trust will spend ten times that on another 38 properties, generating half of its energy from renewable sources, and halving its fossil fuel consumption by 2020 – saving £4 million a year.
Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at National Trust, said: “Through our work we show that renewable technologies can be made to work in some of the country’s most sensitive landscapes and historic environments.”
“Like householders everywhere we are facing rising energy bills. We spend more than £6 million each year heating and powering the places in our care.”
“By investing in renewable energy production we can reduce our energy bills and invest more in vital conservation work around the country. It will put renewable energy at the heart of conservation.”
The pilots are being run in conjunction with green electricity supplier Good Energy.
The National Trust’s four million members will also be able to support the programme by signing up for renewable electricity with Good Energy.
The company will pay the Trust £40 per year for each new customer signing up to its dual fuel tariff via the National Trust.
If 5 per cent of member households adopted the tariff it would raise £3.8 million for investment in a low carbon future and see 95,000 households powered by clean, green renewably sourced electricity.
Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy, said: “Britain is blessed with abundant sources of natural power and we hope people will be inspired when they see how National Trust properties can generate renewable power in harmony with the environment.
“Together we hope to inspire people to switch to green electricity, reduce their energy usage and if possible generate their own renewable power at home.”
The National Trust spends nearly £6 million a year to heat and power its estate - 300 major historic houses, plus office buildings, visitor centres and 360 holiday cottages - and without action it forecasts that rising oil and gas prices would take this to £7.5 million by 2020.
However, the renewables investment programme is expected to reduce operational energy costs by £4.3 million from 2019 and provide an expected 10 per cent return on investment, thanks to lower fuel costs and schemes such as the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive.
Mr Begg said: “A major focus of the programme will be to dramatically reduce the Trust’s reliance on oil from 20 per cent to 3 per cent.
“This not only protects it from volatile and rising prices, but also reduces the risk that oil spills will pollute water courses, gardens and buildings.
“Two of the trial properties, Plas Newydd and Ickworth, are the Trust’s largest users of fuel oil.”