Dutch households have reacted to soaring energy prices by showering for shorter periods and turning down the central heating, but more needs to be done to make homes more energy efficient in the first place, according to a new analysis by the Dutch central bank.
On Monday, the CBS statistics agency announced that the use of electricity by private households has fallen 15%, when taking the milder winter into account. But households which are hurting most because of the high energy prices are most often tenants and the government should be helping them to better insulate their homes as a priority, the central bank says.
Some 2,000 households took part in the DNB survey and 84% said they had taken steps to reduce their energy consumption. In addition, 27% of home owners had invested in minor improvements, such as using led lighting and putting foil behind their radiators. A further 16% had made major investments in energy efficiency, such as cavity wall insulation and solar panels.
However, around one million low income households, often housing corporation tenants, will continue to be hit by high energy prices, when the compensation deals are phased out, the central bank says.
It recommends that the government focus first on ensuring low income households in the least energy efficient homes are prioritized, because of the shortage of both skilled workers and building materials.
For example, housing corporations can focus on their property with the lowest energy labels first. ‘The DNB analysis shows they are concentrated in certain local authority areas and can realise considerable energy savings quickly by using specialist teams,’ the bank said.
The survey also shows that people are unaware of what options they face to make their homes more energy efficient and the different forms of finance they can use.
Low income households in particular are likely to have less grip on what they are spending on energy and what can be done to improve their own situation. The government should therefore focus on improving its provision of information, by using energy coaches, for example, the central bank said.
According to the Dutch environmental assessment agency PBL, it will cost an estimated €24,000 to bring the average home up to energy label B standards, but just 5% of home owners in the DNB survey are prepared to invest more than €20,000.
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