The Dutch government’s National Insulation Program (NIP) which resolves to insulate 1.5 million poorly insulated homes in the Netherlands has not been very successful so far. Lack of proper insulation means higher energy bills for residents. According to a report published by ABN AMRO, this is primarily because funds made available for NIP by the government are only a fraction of the total insulation costs.
The situation in Groningen
According to data collected by housing associations in Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland, around 19000 rental homes are poorly insulated, reports Dagblad Noorden. These houses are rented from housing corporations mainly by students and low-income families.
The city council of Groningen has come up with a novel initiative to support residents struggling with high gas bills by providing free assistance to properly insulate homes this winter. The council gathers data to identify neighbourhoods with large numbers of poorly insulated homes and compares them with the income status of the residents. “We send letters to eligible households or student houses to inform them of the support we are able to provide”, says Martin Klooster who works for the city council.
The letter includes a list of items to insulate houses including LED lamps, draft strips, radiator foil, letterbox brushes, door closers and water-saving shower heads. For those who are unable to instal these items by themselves, the city council also provides a subsidised handyman service called the “Energieklusbus”. “Since the launch of this initiative in October 2022, we have been able to help over 10,000 residents in Groningen”, adds Klooster.
Impact on students
“The walls of my house have holes in them. The heat escapes really fast and I end up using much more energy than I would otherwise”, says Stijn Bloemhof, a student and part-time chef living in Groningen. Stijn received a letter from the city council with a list of items he was eligible to get for free to insulate his house last week. “The radiator foils are quite expensive. Previously, I was buying them myself but the city council gave me some for free so that really helped”, adds Stijn.
While this initiative by the city council provides some interim relief to students and low-income families during the coldest winter months, it remains to be seen whether it will actually lead to lower energy bills. “I will receive my final energy bill for last year sometime in June 2023, so I don’t know for sure if insulating will bring down my energy costs but I’m hoping for the best”, says Stijn.