A COMMUNITY at risk of being broken up because of high energy bills can stay together thanks to new gas central heating.

People living in 100 houses in the Claypool Estate, Horwich, many of whom are elderly, were struggling with the high costs of heating their homes with electric energy.

It can cost three or four times as much to heat a home using electricity instead of gas, with the average fuel cost for water and heating for electricity £1,700 a year compared to gas at £700 if a combi condensing boiler is fitted.

So, the Claypool Residents’ Association began working with housing provider Places for People and Bolton West MP Julie Hilling to put forward an application for an installation grant for gas central heating for the area.

Places for People then obtained national grid support for the cost of the pipeline into the estate and funded the conversion to gas central heating.

Work started in July last year and now a new pipeline has been fitted and all 100 properties have been transferred to a gas supply for their heating.

One resident benefiting from the switch is Roy Greenhalgh, aged 65, of Poplar Avenue, who also chairs the residents’ association.

He said: “For the 40 years, since the estate was built, these houses used storage heaters, which would release heat in the daytime but go off at night and leave people cold in their homes.

“What is great about this new system is we have gas on demand.

“There is a thermostat and we can control it. It means energy is not wasted and so our bills will go down.”

Fellow Poplar Avenue resident, Winston Heeley, aged 73, said: “We are ever so grateful to everyone involved and are looking forward to saving money on our bills.”

Ms Hilling, who has been campaigning for months to get the issue resolved, said: “I am so pleased that the residents of Claypool will now be able to have gas central heating.

“I, along with Places for People, have been working hard to get this issue resolved, ensuring options and choice are available to families and individuals living in Horwich.”

Secretary of the Residents’ Association, Ken Whowell, said: “The difference has been enormous. We now have lower fuel bills and this means that people can afford to stay in the homes that they love.”