FAMILIES in St Neots say they are being forced into fuel poverty by inefficient heating systems in their homes.

FAMILIES in St Neots say they are being forced into fuel poverty by inefficient heating systems in their homes.

Residents of Love's Farm, who live in homes built by Kier, say they are paying between £200 and £300 per month in electricity, and some now have debts of as much as £1,000 as a result.

The NIBE system - which comprises an electric boiler and a heat pump - collects energy from warm inside air as it leaves the home via a ventilation system, and re-uses it to heat fresh incoming air and tap water.

It has been promoted by its Swedish manufacturer as both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

But, according to numerous residents of Love's Farm, who can't afford to heat their homes or take a bath this winter, the system is flawed. They want Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association (BPHA) to replace the units with gas boilers.

Mum-of-three, Sam Claussen, who rents a three-bedroom home in Bargroves Avenue from BPHA, told The Hunts Post: "It's just horrendous. A large proportion of people on Love's Farm are in social housing, and so many of us struggle financially as it is.

"Our electricity costs us £50 per week when the weather is reasonably mild, as it has been recently. But with the temperature starting to drop I'm concerned I'm going to run out [of money] - a few weeks ago we went through £50 in just five days.

The NIBE systems operate on three settings - winter, autumn/spring and summer and Ms Claussen has been advised by engineers how to run the boiler efficiently throughout the year, but the problems remain.

She is only one of many people who contacted The Hunts Post this week about problems with NIBE boilers.

Jaime Dickinson, of Paddock Close, is so incensed by the situation, and BPHA's response, that he set up a NIBE Problems Facebook page, which has so far received more than 31,000 views, and led to the discovery that the problem is nationwide.

He said: "The tenants and shared owners with these boilers at Love's Farm are taking their case to the Housing Ombudsman because, in our view, this heating system does not meet the required C02 savings and other building regulations of Code Level 3 of the Sustainable Homes Act.

"Since starting the Facebook page we've learned that residents at the Wixams near Bedford and the Hampton in Peterborough are going through the same process. But problems also lie in Wales, Yorkshire, Cornwall, London and even the Isle of Skye."

A BPHA spokesman said: "We are doing a great deal of work in the background to find a solution that will mean residents have efficient heating systems. There are complex legal issues which need to be addressed but we will be contacting residents shortly to discuss our proposals for resolving these matters, and will ensure that wherever possible, residents do not suffer financial hardship as a result of problems with their heating system."

INFORMATION: For details on NIBE boiler problems visit www.facebook.com/pages/NIBE-boiler-problems/109940359085493