Energiebox Eindhoven
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The climate is changing and we are all going to notice the consequences, all over the world. There are plenty of plans to prepare for this or even to reverse the process. But as an alderman for a medium-sized city in the Netherlands, what can you contribute to that? What is the impact of a climate measure on a local level? Rik Thijs, alderman for climate & energy in Eindhoven, shares his dilemmas, his choices, and his ambitions, once every month.

In one of my earlier columns, I talked about small sustainable steps close to home, and which choices I can make. It was about my broken boiler and whether I should take a new one. In the meantime, it has been replaced. The new one is much more energy-efficient, which is great. Last week I found out, after a piece of skillful energy advice, that I can do a lot more in the house.

The municipality, together with the four housing corporations, offers free energy advice. Already 2,000 inhabitants of Eindhoven have received this so-called Energy Box, which comes with some personal advice. The project started at the beginning of this year with four energy consultants who were previously unemployed. In the meantime, 14 advisors have been trained to do the job. One of them has already moved on to another job.

One of these consultants is Paul. He handed me the Energy Box, and then he gave me some useful advice as well (in a digital way, due to corona). Together we went through my energy consumption, discussed my home and what sustainable measures I had already taken myself (roof insulation, double windows), and what other possibilities there would be. For example cavity wall insulation. Unfortunately, this is not possible because I live in a house that doesn’t even have a cavity to insulate. And of course the installation of solar panels. The Green Zone is already taking care of that, by the way.

Paul also gave some tips on what to do with the materials from the Energy Box. Strips for window shafts or foil to put behind the heating. This foil was very effective for me because my facade is not insulated. But also a thermometer to check the temperature in the fridge. All these measures were then sent to me in a piece of personal energy advice, giving me a good insight into what I can save per year on my energy bill.

And then back to my new boiler. Paul really came with an eye opener. He told me that by lowering the standard temperature of the boiler from 80 to 60 to 70 degrees it is possible to save 5 to 10% on my gas consumption. On an annual basis that saves about 90 euros. How nice it would be if an installer just does that automatically for everyone. Small effort, big effect.

In a region where innovation and key technology are rapidly emerging in the energy transition, the conversation with Paul has once again made it clear to me that sometimes you can also make a very small and simple contribution to the climate, and ultimately to your own wallet.