Fifth of homeowners can't afford to make their home more sustainable
A fifth of homeowners cannot afford to make their homes more sustainable, Dutch central bank DNB found in an analysis of 4.3 million homeowners. This mainly concerns people with relatively low income and a poorly insulated house - the people most affected by the high energy prices. They don't have enough savings to pay for sustainability measures, and the repayment of additional loans could prove problematic, the DNB said, Trouw reports.
The Cabinet wants to get 1.5 million homes off the gas network by 2030. This means that a significant number of homes need to be made more sustainable, and the costs of that mainly land on the homeowners.
DNB calculated that it would cost an average of 24,000 euros per house to get it insulated until it meets energy label B and have a heat pump installed. However, the actual insulation costs depend on the state of the house and the type. Making a detached house more sustainable costs an average of 34,000 euros, while a family home in an apartment building comes out at 14,000 euros.
About 21 percent of homeowners can't afford that, DNB concluded. Nearly 90 percent of this group live in a house with an energy label C or lower, which will require a lot of work. Banks do offer extra borrowing space if the money is used for sustainability. But this is not a good solution for homeowners with a low income, as repayments could be problematic for this "financially vulnerable group," the DNB said.
There are subsidy schemes, but previous studies by the Court of Audit and the Central Planning Bureau found that they are not always equally effective. For example, they sometimes only apply for large sustainability investments. Or they are only paid out after the investment has been made. This excludes households that don't have money in advance or can only afford to become more sustainable in small steps.
DNB did not give a ready-made solution for how subsidies can be better regulated. The main advantage of this analysis is that it points out which group needs the most attention, board member Olaf Sleijpen said. "It's a pretty specific group that you want to help. For example, it does not involve everyone with a low income."
What seems to bind this group most is the region in which they live. The analysis found that vulnerable households often live in shrinking areas, like municipalities in the north of Friesland, in Oost-Groningen, and Zuid-Limburg. It may therefore be a good idea to arrange the subsidies at a regional level, DNB suggested.