Photo of the outside of Levens Hall, a 16th century country house
Levens Hall manor house, near Kendal, Cumbria © Historic England DP066624
Levens Hall manor house, near Kendal, Cumbria © Historic England DP066624

Low-Carbon Heating System Cuts Fuel Costs at Levens Hall

Levens Hall is a 16th century Grade I listed hall in South Lakeland, Cumbria. The hall is the ancestral home of the Bagot family and opens as a visitor attraction, bringing in 35,000 visitors a year.

The hall was reliant on LPG and oil for heating and hot water, with annual fuel costs of around £15,000. In 2011, a 112-kilowatt biomass district heating scheme was installed to replace the existing oil burning system and provide heating around the site.

Installing a low-carbon heating system can be a viable carbon reduction measure when other measures are found to be unsuitable. Biomass boilers typically burn wood-based fuels which, when burned, release the same amount of carbon as was absorbed over the plant’s lifetime. If fuel is cultivated and manufactured locally, and new plants are grown in place of those used for fuel, the carbon emissions of a biomass system can be much lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.

Two vacuum-fed 56-kilowatt pellet boilers supply heat to the main hall, the domestic wing and the shop, cafe and greenhouses. The system can modulate heat output to match heat demand and has been designed with weather compensation and zone control.

Preserving the building itself was important throughout the installation, so it was engineered to connect to the hall’s existing heating system, and the two boilers and pellet stores were installed in the Hall’s historic brew room so the building structure didn't have to be altered. Two heating mains supply the hall and greenhouses using insulated underground pipes.

When the system was installed in 2011, it qualified for a renewable heat incentive that covers part of its running cost. The retrofit has reduced the hall’s fuel bill to around £10,000 per year and has cut the estate’s annual carbon footprint by an estimated 70-75 tonnes.

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