Two air source heat pumps installed on the exterior of a modern house

Monitoring of the Central Heating Fund in Northumberland

The Central Heating fund was a scheme by the UK government to install central heating systems within fuel poor homes which currently had no central heating. Those homes targeted included homes where the heating was provided by a single coal fire, or with electric heaters. Within Northumberland, the project installed 458 central heating systems, which were either heat pump, gas boiler, or oil boiler based. Decerna we employed by Northumberland County Council to monitor the project, and the impact of the works on levels of fuel poverty and well being for those living within the properties.

Outline and Objectives

Decerna carried out a monitoring and evaluation exercise for the Central Heating Fund (CHF) installations within Northumberland to understand the real impacts on fuel bills, and on the wellbeing of householders/residents. Additionally, the purpose of this work was to ensure that the installation company employed had undertaken work to a high level of quality, and treated the home and householders with respect.

  • Questionnaires to ~15-20% randomised sample of the 1,472 properties (pre-install & post-install)
  • Engagement visits to ~1% non-randomised sample (three visits)
  • Identification of issues within installs


Decerna found that the project succeeded in reducing annual energy costs of a typical household by more than £300. Other benefits ranged from contentment with the warmth of homes changing from “barley adequate” to “very content”, health & wellbeing improving from “adequate” to “healthy”, and those households which turn off heating to save money falling from 70% to 48%.

The majority of households spent more than £200 on cosmetic repairs or alterations as a direct result of the new central heating system being installed

90% of householders were happy with their new heating systems, with 81% happy with the installation process.

A major finding was the issues of understanding how to use the new heating systems, which needs to be addressed either with handover, or also for manufacturers to consider how to make easier to understand heating control systems.

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