Disabled Sunderland woman left freezing in own home with 'inefficient' heating system

Janette Gray suffers with thalamic syndrome after she had a stroke in 2009. Credit: NCJ Media

A Washington couple say they have been left shivering in the cold after struggling to regulate the heating in their home.

John and Janette Gray, of Oxclose, are waiting for a new boiler being fitted as part of an upgrade to their central heating system, but say their home is now too cold for Janette, who is in poor health with limited mobility.

The couple, who have lived in their home since 1980, are using the ageing Washington district heating system to keep warm. It is being decommissioned in the Oxclose and Albany areas of Washington.

Housing association Gentoo, which owns the system, admitted that it was over 50 years old and "inefficient".

The Grays say they have got used to the district heating system over the years and that this winter has been particularly difficult, especially for Janette, who suffers with thalamic syndrome after a stroke in 2009.

Mr Gray, 61, gave up his job to be his wife's full-time carer. He said: "Janette cannot regulate her own temperature at all.

"She suffers from hot flushes, then shivering, not helped by her very poor mobility. The heating has been much worse this year."

He also said it is taking two hours for the house to heat up and that radiator temperatures are erratic with them being too hot to touch or not coming on at all."Janette is really cold. She has lots of anxiety and mental health problems on top of her poor physical health, and this is just too much for her to manage.

"We've found the district heating system fine up to now, but this year, we're struggling with it and our neighbours are saying the same thing. We feel that Gentoo don't want to know about the problems and the Switch2 engineers are getting annoyed because we are always calling them out," Mr Gray said.

Gentoo apologised that the couple felt the district heating system supplying their home was not adequate.

But the director of property maintenance, James Haste, said the boiler house is running at the same temperature as it was in December 2021.

Mr Haste said: "At Gentoo we believe everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure home, and we’re sorry to hear the district heating system supplying Mr and Mrs Gray’s home is not heating their home sufficiently.

"As part of our investment in replacing the inefficient system, we will be providing all homeowners with a new gas boiler free of charge. We understand that the inefficient system, coupled with the plummeting overnight temperatures may be causing those living in these homes to be feeling colder than usual.

"We’re sorry to hear Mr and Mrs Gray’s home feels cold. Once a double pole isolator is installed through EDF energy to this property, Gentoo will install their free gas boiler.

"With a more efficient system in place, we are confident Mr and Mrs Gray will feel more comfortable in their home."

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