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National Trust holiday cottage dating back to 1485 sees reduced bills

Background to the project

The National Trust has a large portfolio of historical properties and holiday cottages which through their Renewable Energy Investment Programme (REIP) will see them source 50% of their energy usage from renewable sources by 2020.

An important part of meeting this pledge is by finding renewable solutions that provide heat and hot water to these properties, such as air source and ground source heat pumps.

Many of the properties are of significant character, constructed using old building techniques and heated by expensive and carbon heavy oil systems. One example of this is West Challacombe Manor and Cottage, a delightful duo of holiday homes dating back to 1485.

Located on the north coast of Devon the two properties are situated within their own grounds and just metres away from the South West Coastal Path giving unrivalled access to stunning scenery and vistas. The original scullery and dairy have also been incorporated in to the careful renovations which have retained the properties’ special character and historic features.

To support the renovations of the properties, which has a footprint of over 230m2 and solid stone walls, required the specification of two NIBE F2040 16kW Air Source Heat Pumps. These were installed by the Trust’s chosen contractors WDS Green Energy to provide all heating and hot water requirements for the Manor and Cottage whilst fully removing all fossil fuel heating.

Negating the need for costly oil deliveries – almost £3,000 a year - the renewable energy system will ensure heating and hot water on demand, ideal for the modern, discerning holiday guest and for those choosing holiday lets that support sustainability programmes.

West Challacombe

NIBE products used:

Key stats:

NIBE F2040 16kW

Air Source Heat Pump

  • National Trust property dating back to 1485
  • Estimated £2,373 per year in energy savings
  • Installed by WDS Green Energy

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The solution to the project

This is another fine example of how renewable energy systems can be incorporated into the oldest properties and sympathetic renovation schemes to great effect. “ said Lewis McNulty, director at WDS Green Energy. “Modern heating systems, which embrace the latest technologies, are not just for modern properties. For customers such as the National Trust, whose ethos is integral to preserving the beauty of the UK, replacing costly and unsustainable oil systems is entirely appropriate.

“By installing a pair of Air Source Heat Pumps the Manor and Cottage will enjoy plentiful hot water and heat without the inconvenience and cost associated with oil systems. Furthermore, it is another pair of properties that will help the Trust achieve its renewable energy targets.”

The Results

Air Source Heat Pumps are generally straightforward to install, causing minimum external disruption and as they are able to operate efficiently at temperatures as low as -20°C, are entirely suitable for the most remote locations in the harshest of British winters.

In addition to the evident eco-credentials offered by the heat pump over oil and the complications associated with the sourcing and delivery of the oil, significant financial benefits have been realised.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) payments have been estimated at around £1,461 per annum for a 7 year period. More significantly, the cost reduction when compared with purchasing the oil too will deliver a total estimated benefit of £2,373 per annum.


Lewis McNulty, WDS Green Energy, appraised “This installation has not only delivered cost saving benefits but also considerable environmental ones too."

“By choosing renewable energy for its holiday accommodations the National Trust can begin to make more savings, become even more environmentally friendly and preserve the properties and landscapes of the National Trust for many years to come.

“West Challacombe Manor and Cottage are popular holiday lets in a beautiful part of the UK and they will undoubtedly reap the benefits of the new heat pumps. No longer will oil deliveries be required to a site with particularly difficult access for oil tankers, heating and hot water services will be reliabile and consistent and the carbon footprint of the properties has been reduced, all of which helps to protect them for the future.

“We will continue to partner with the National Trust in the fulfilment of its renewable strategy imparting our knowledge and expertis. Removal of oil-powered heating systems from the majority of their properties will be a huge step towards achieving its clearly defined goals and to making a positive contribution to the renewable energy targets of the UK.”

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