Edinburgh Castle installs wool and green lightbulbs to save energy

A military band marches at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Greg Macvean
A military band marches at Edinburgh Castle. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SHEEP wool and low-energy bulbs have been installed at Edinburgh Castle to drive down utility bills at Scotland’s most popular tourist attraction.

It comes amid a major programme of work across the country to make Scotland’s historic properties fit for an energy efficient future.

Heating and lighting bills have dropped by around 30 per cent at the castle over the past eight years as a result of the programme, according to Historic Environment Scotland.

Last year, almost £195,000 was spent on electricity, with the gas bill totalling just over £103,000.

Roger Curtis, technical research manager at Historic Environment Scotland, said the organisation had taken big strides with the work it had done to limit energy expenditure in some of the country’s oldest buildings.

“We have been at this since 2010 and we can say with some degree of pride that we are certainly way ahead of most people in the UK,” he said.

“We really started early on this.”

Mr Curtis said Edinburgh Castle had been a stiff challenge because it was a “very public” place made up of 27 separate buildings with some of the walls around 5ft thick.

He said sheep’s wool had been put in the attic of some parts.

New boilers and low-energy bulbs were also part of the package of improvements.

“You have this site, some of which dates from medieval times and other parts from the 19th century, such as the barracks,” said Mr Curtis.

“You also have a modern cafe within all that to consider.”

Other recent projects have included a trial at Kilmartin Church in Argyll where radiant panels were fitted to walls in order to heat surfaces rather than cold air. An air source heat pump was then used to boost the temperature by around 14C.

The project is considered a successful use of new technologies at a time when building fabrics across Scotland are at risk of further degradation given increased wet weather in some parts.

Mr Curtis said: “In Scotland we are relatively lucky as the majority of these buildings are similar in the sense that they use a similar range of traditional materials, although they are different geometrically in scale.” He added that a key trick to creating a warm room was to ensure that a timber floor was not cold. “Sometimes all you need is a well insulated floor,” he said.

Political figures in the Capital have welcomed the cost savings. Councillor Chas Booth, Green energy spokesman, said: “This successful programme shows that energy efficiency is for all buildings, not just those built recently. If Edinburgh Castle can do it then the Capital’s large stock of 18th and 19th century buildings can follow suit. A massive programme of retrofit would save millions.”