As Martin Drury, director-general of the Trust, said yesterday: "In energy- saving terms, the National Trust is probably best-known for keeping the blinds down and the heating low in its country houses."
The lightbulbs initiative is a more progressive approach and one which the Energy Saving Trust (EST) hopes will serve as an example to ordinary, as well as stately, home-owners.
The pounds 12 to pounds 13 cost of an energy-saving bulb is a deterrent, compared with 50p for a conventional 60-watt bulb. But EST estimates that domestic users would break even on cost after 12 months and then save pounds 10 a year.
Low-energy bulbs have a life of around 10,000 hours compared with 1,000 for a conventional bulb.
Under the auspices of the EST, regional electricity companies are subsidising the bulk purchase of low-energy bulbs for the National Trust. Altogether, 13,132 ordinary tungsten filament bulbs will be replaced by compact fluorescent lamps.
This "retro-fitting" is expected to save the charity pounds 51,500 on the cost of light- bulbs and pounds 102,400 a year in reduced electricity bills. There is also a potential benefit for the wider environment. If the reduced demand for electricity was reflected in power station output, there would be an annual saving in emissions of carbon dioxide - the main global warming gas - of 850 tonnes.
A system of energy audits for all Trust properties has been initiated and staff have been trained to be more energy conscious. Energy-saving guidelines have been drawn up for its historic houses, offices, holiday cottages and the ubiquitous shops and tea rooms.
Mr Drury said the use of low- energy lightbulbs would enable funds to be released for essential conservation work.
The Trust began its efficiency the programme yesterday, with the installation of saver bulbs at Polesden Lacey, an elegant country house near Dorking, Surrey, which was once the home of Mrs Ronald Greville, a well-known Edwardian hostess and hardly the sort of woman who would have to change her own lightbulbs.Reuse content