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How to preserve heritage sites economically

5 min read
Insights Lincoln Castle

With electricity prices continuing to spike around the world, learn how to preserve heritage sites economically and effectively for years to come.

Much like other businesses throughout Europe, heritage sites are being forced to minimise energy bills due to sharp rises in electricity tariffs.

To generate meaningful savings, many operators are reducing temperatures indoors by just a few degrees Celsius.

While this can quickly minimise a site’s energy consumption, cooler temperatures can have far-reaching consequences on the wider climate. Without intervention, this can cause costly problems in the long term.

Below, we discuss the issues operators face when managing heritage buildings at cooler temperatures, and why dehumidifiers are often necessary for efficient, economical long-term preservation.

Low temperatures: Efficient but costly…

Temperature and humidity levels are closely linked. As the temperature of air rises, the atmosphere can hold a greater volume of moisture. Conversely, as temperatures drop, the amount of water the air can contain shrinks and relative humidity increases.

This means that when the atmosphere is cooled, excess moisture in the air condenses on surfaces – the same principle responsible for causing droplets to form on poorly insulated windows or ice-cold bottles.

In practice, then, as heritage sites lower indoor temperatures, the amount of water this air can hold is reduced. As a consequence, humidity levels rise and water droplets can form on surfaces, damaging walls, windows, pipework and precious artefacts.

How excess moisture in the air impacts heritage sites and contents - Infographic image

Although savings generated by lowering temperatures can be significant, the cost of an uncontrolled inside climate can be greater.

When moisture seeps into hard-to-reach spaces, rust and mould can take hold and cause significant harm, often constituting significant repair bills. In a recent example, extensive water damage to Highclere Castle in the UK required £12 million (€13.9 million) to repair.

Uncontrolled humidity does not just jeopardise the structural integrity of buildings themselves. Poor climate control can also damage or destroy the priceless, one-of-a-kind artefacts stored within. In 2016, a leaking roof in the David Ross Magna Carta vault placed this invaluable 800-year-old document at serious risk.

How to protect heritage sites economically

To regulate indoor conditions, many historical buildings often rely on their heating systems. However, with energy prices increasing globally, this method represents an incredibly inefficient and costly way to control climate.

It is not just the poor energy efficiency of gas and electric heating that makes this method of climate control unfit for use. Humidity levels can fluctuate due to several factors, including:

Heritage site preservation and what factors cause humidity levels to fluctuate, from weather to ventilation - Infographic image

In order to create a consistent and stable environment – the crux of economical preservation – dehumidifiers represent the most efficient and effective solution.

Able to extract unwanted moisture from the air itself, these systems use a fraction of the fuel and electricity of a comparatively capable heating solution, reducing electricity bills in a meaningful way. A by-product of the dehumidification process is heat, and this ‘waste heat’ also forms part of the climate control solution.

For the greatest reduction in energy costs, it is not just enough to use any dehumidifier – heritage sites must also:

Select the right dehumidifier

While dehumidifiers are a sustainable solution for heritage site climate control, it is important to select the right type and size of system for the application at hand.

  • Too much drying capacity for a space and the delicate materials within could be overdried, in addition to compromising energy efficiency

  • Too little capacity and multiple systems have to be used in tandem, sending electricity bills rising

Position units thoughtfully

Protecting historic structures economically also involves positioning dehumidifiers in key areas or near sensitive objects. Dry air can also be ducted into problem rooms, and moist air extracted, to preserve the historic aesthetic of a setting.

Use a humidistat

To prevent needless system use, a humidistat can be employed alongside a dehumidification unit to automatically switch off these units when ideal conditions are achieved, only drying air when absolutely necessary.

Service and maintain systems

It is also important that systems are properly cleaned and maintained for maximum efficiency, as the buildup of dirt and other unwanted material can increase the cost of operation.

Opt for display cases

Additionally, display cases can be used to create a microclimate within a space to ensure that artefacts and other sensitive exhibits are kept totally safe from undesirable fluctuations in the indoor climate.

Bad practices to avoid for proper heritage site climate control optimisation - Infographic image

The value of professional expertise in heritage dehumidification

The rich and varied history of Europe has survived for centuries, and as custodians of this legacy, it is our duty to preserve these artefacts and historical buildings for future generations to enjoy.

But, keeping unwanted moisture out of these delicate structures and exhibitions – while adhering to strict budgets – is easier said than done…

4 challenges of drying heritage sites and preserving contents - Infographic image

To address these difficult challenges, it is not just important to incorporate dehumidifiers fit for purpose, but to also select a system backed by an experienced manufacturer.

Talk to the experts

With more than 25 years of experience, and a proven track record supplying dehumidifiers that deliver meaningful results in these types of environments, Aerial are the outstanding manufacturer of heritage drying technology.

It is not just our vast range of specialist expertise that makes our solutions the ideal fit for this delicate task. Our wide selection of dehumidifiers – both fixed and portable – suits practically any environment.

Heritage site dehumidifiers product showcase of 4 condensation dehumidifiers - Infographic image

Built for efficiency, durability, sustainability and usability, Aerial dehumidifiers are helping preserve history for generations to come without the cost of high electricity bills.

And when paired with remote monitoring software, further energy savings can be realised by gathering real-time data that allows operators to make efficiency improvements, ensuring sites are kept suitably dry at all times.

To learn more about preventing moisture damage, and how our technology can help your site save money, fill out the form below to get in touch with our team of experts.

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Aerial AD 20 – condensation dehumidifier
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