A HEATING installation scheme aimed to help tackle fuel poverty across east Durham has reached the milestone of improving 500 homes in this financial year.

East Durham Homes and contracting partner Kier started the project in 2011 and as it nears completion in March 2013, almost 1,300 homes will have benefitted from a new heating system.

The project targeted homes with solid fuel or inefficient heating systems and customers have experienced marked improvements to their home and a reduction in heating bills.

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Gordon Rutherford, of Wheatley Hill, said: “The new system is brilliant and is definitely saving me money.

It was a really professional job.”

Rose Tunnicliffe, from Seaham, said: “The new fireplace has really improved the look of our bungalow, we were able to choose from a wide selection and it really sets the room off.”

The heating improvement scheme has seen properties at Easington, Grants Houses, Haswell, Seaham, Shotton, Thornley and Wheatley Hill benefit from the new energy efficient heating installations.

Kier regional director, Mike Furze, said: “At Kier, we work with communities across the country to improve the living conditions of thousands of families.

“We are very pleased to have been part of the team to deliver heating upgrades to residents in East Durham.”

Paul Mains, East Durham Homes’ interim chief executive, said: “Tackling fuel poverty is high on our agenda so it’s wonderful to receive such positive feedback from customers who have benefitted from a new heating system."