Residents fighting for new heating system

Residents on Cork's northside have said a new air heating system in their homes is ineffective and needs to be removed before the winter comes. Housing Correspondent Rosin Burke spoke to those living in the Glenamoy Lawn and Ard Bhaile estates.
Residents fighting for new heating system

Councillor Ted Tynan, on left, with some of the residents of Ard Bhaile and Glenamoy Lawn, Mayfield, who are not happy with the heating system installed by Cork County Council. Picture: Denis Minihane

Fears of a cold winter has residents of Glenamoy and Ard Bhaile estates fighting for a new heating system after an ‘ineffective’ and ‘costly’ system was installed by the council in 2016.

People, who have lived in these two estates for periods ranging from two to 20 years, have complained to the council that the air-to-air heating system that replaced an oil radiator system is extremely expensive, while also not heating their homes and even worse — it’s causing and exacerbating health conditions.

Cllr Ted Tynan.Picture: Jim Coughlan.
Cllr Ted Tynan.Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Local Workers Party Councillor Ted Tynan said the system, that was installed in the 109 homes in Glenamoy Lawn and 157 in Ard Bhaile estate, was a mistake and should have been an air-to-water system that was installed in a number of other council estates across the city.

“My opinion, based on research, is that the air-to air-system is not suitable for these houses. They installed the wrong system, they should have installed air-to-water. It has to be rectified.”

Mr Tynan said the council spent €4m installing the system but they still have a duty of care to these tenants paying rent.

“These tenants have endured two winters in these houses with this heating system and there is a huge myriad of cases of chest complaints, asthma, respiratory problems and other medical problems as a result,” Mr Tynan said.

As well as this the heating system is extremely expensive costing 53 cents per hour, per heater and it does not heat the water meaning there are additional costs on the residents to have hot water through the immersion system.

“The costs are massive,” Mr Tynan said, “the residents are getting ESB bills that have doubled and when they spare the usage, they are still getting heavy bills.”

In response to these claims, a spokesperson at City Hall said: “’The old heating system at the Ard Bhaile/Glenamoy Lawn housing complex which was dysfunctional and expensive to maintain was replaced by the council with a new air-to-air heating system.

“The new heating system is very effective and user-friendly. Its performance is monitored by the council. The council will continue to engage with residents on this and other issues with the aim of improving quality of life for residents.’’

Mary Thompson, a resident, holding a remote control for the heating with an air to air heater over the window in the kitchen of her house. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Mary Thompson, a resident, holding a remote control for the heating with an air to air heater over the window in the kitchen of her house. Picture: Denis Minihane.

Micheal Morey, who lives in Glenamoy Lawn said the heating is very costly and it is hard to keep warm from it.

“I have to leave the heaters on all day to get heat from them. I need the heating on for medical reasons and it is very expensive in the winter.”

Another resident of Glenamoy Lawn, Patrick Gaynor, said the system was terrible and he wanted the radiators back.

Mr Gaynor said the new system was extremely impractical.

“I live with my two sons and we can’t dry out clothes. It takes three days to dry clothes,” Mr Gaynor said.

“The hot tank is cold and you have to heat the immersion to get hot water that costs a fortune and the hot air from the system is killing my chest.”

Mr Gaynor also said that the heaters only heat a very small portion of the house and the other rooms are like an icebox.

“It is a waste of money,” Mr Gaynor said.

The Glenamoy Lawn resident also said his son’s asthma, which had cleared up many years previously, appeared to have been sparked up again by the heating system.

“My son had asthma as a child, he was fine for a few years but now its back,” Mr Gaynor said.

Anne Marie O’Callaghan is another resident affected by the heating system installed in Ard Bhaile and Glenamoy Lawns.

“I have been living here for the past 16 years,” Anne Marie said, “The old system was perfect, it leaked but that could be fixed.

“The new system is like a hairdryer, installed overhead blowing out hot air.

“We have no access to hot water and we have to turn on the immersion to heat the water, which is expensive.”

Ms O’Callaghan said that her heating bills have tripled from €20 a week to €60 to €70.

“The heaters cost 53 cents an hour to run,” Ms O’Callaghan said, “There are five heaters in my house, that adds up to a lot.”

Ms O’Callaghan said she was worried about the winter for herself and for other residents.

“Last winter there were people frozen, blue with the cold. There were a lot of health problems and pneumonia.

“Already people are going to bed with housecoats on. It’s a disgrace.” 

Both Ann O’Connell and Donna Healy live in Glenamoy Lawn and they both say there is a smell of damp from their clothes.

Donna said: “My clothes stink, they are never properly dry and the noise of the heaters gives me headaches.”

Ms Healy also said the air from the heaters is dry and unhealthy, her bills are sky high since the systems were switched over and she has mould in her kitchen and bedroom.

“Cork City Council are fully aware of the situation,” Ms Healy said.

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