A HOUSING association has agreed to replace some of the heating systems which have brought misery to hundreds of St Neots residents.

Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) has identified 43 homes on Love's Farm which they say have an "inadequate" system.

Nine of the 43 NIBE heaters have been taken out with the replacement of the other 34 units earmarked for October.

The Hunts Post reported in February how some families on the estate were being forced into fuel poverty due to the Swedish-made NIBE units operating inefficiently.

Annual running costs had been estimated at £500 but instead some tenants were paying almost £2,000 a year - nearly double the national average.

The NIBE system works by sucking heat from waste air as it leaves the house and pumping it back to provide heating and hot water.

But if it does not increase the boiler water temperature enough, an electric immersion heater kicks-in, sending bills sky high.

Mum-of-four Samantha Claussen, who is in line for a replacement, said: "BPHA deemed our heating system too small for the property we are in. They offered us a choice between an add-on to the current system or a gas boiler - clearly we opted for gas.

"I can't wait. It's such a relief knowing I won't have find £70 a week to heat our home in the run-up to Christmas.

"It means we won't have to choose between heating and eating."

The campaign to replace the heating systems gathered pace when Love's Farm resident Jaime Dickenson, of Paddock Close, set up a Facebook page and discovered the problem was nationwide.

"We learned that residents at the Wixams near Bedford and Hampton in Peterborough were going through the same process.

"But problems also lie in Wales, Yorkshire, Cornwall, London and even the Isle of Skye," he said.

Bedfordshire Pilgrims said it would be contacting residents with particularly high bills to fit additional check-metres to the units in order the monitor the energy consumption.

They added that discussions with legal advisors to determine the fate of the rest of the units were ongoing.

A spokesman said: "NIBE was proposed to us by our contractors as an energy efficient, cost effective and green heating solution and we agreed to its use in around 250 new homes we were building. We also received performance and cost information from NIBE.

Unfortunately, some of our residents have reported a number of problems with the system, including high bills and poor performance. On investigating these problems, we have decided to replace at least 43 systems; we are in discussions with NIBE, our contractors and our legal advisors about the remainder. We have given financial support exceeding £45,000 to residents who have experienced high bills."

A spokesman for NIBE said: "It is important to note that the boilers themselves are not inefficient, rather that they are currently operating inefficiently in a small number of homes. There are many thousands of these systems installed around the UK that are operating excellently. The inefficient operation is not caused by the boilers, it's most likely caused by the installation, which is out of NIBE's control."