Make your home sustainable: Five reasons why!

Rising energy prices, the war in Ukraine and the preservation of Mother Earth. These are all reasons why more and more homeowners want to make their homes more sustainable. Making your home more sustainable does not have to be difficult or expensive, but how do you make the right choices when it comes to sustainable living? Structural engineer Martin van Dorp explains why making your home more sustainable is important, what you can do and what the benefits are.

Why should you make your home more sustainable, especially now?
By insulating the house and, if possible, generating your own energy, you can significantly reduce your energy consumption. As a result, you are less dependent on external energy suppliers and your housing costs will be more stable and predictable. Insulating your home has even more advantages: maintenance costs are usually lower and living comfort improves. Martin: “A good humidity in the house is very important. Ideally this should be around 45-55%. It’s more pleasant than a damp and moldy house or a house that is too dry. A dry house has negative effects on your health. For example, you may experience dry, itchy skin, cracked lips, difficulty breathing or headaches.”

When we think of sustainability, we often think of saving on energy use. What else can you do to make your home more sustainable?
Good insulation is the best start. A sustainable home cannot exist without good insulation. In addition to good insulation, you can install a hybrid heating system, solar boiler or heat pump. You can also install sustainable lighting in and around your home; nowadays there are excellent (dimmable) LED lighting options. Martin: “If you would like to use solar panels, but this is not possible in your home, you can choose to participate in a solar panel field or a windmill – except when you are tied to a contract with your supplier. Participating in a solar panel field usually means you can no longer choose your energy supplier, as there is only one that owns the field. Another thing you can do to make your home more sustainable is to choose a sustainable (green) energy supplier. Tip: Don’t forget to schedule an annual call your current supplier and ask if they can make a better deal because you’re considering switching.”

How can you improve sustainability if you live in an apartment?
If you live in an apartment, it is a good idea to have the entire building made more sustainable. Regular maintenance is usually included in the Long-Term Maintenance Plan (MJOP) of the Homeowners’ Association (VvE), but money should also be set aside to make the entire building more sustainable with major works. Martin: “Residents and VvE members may not immediately see the advantage of making the building more sustainable, but this is often due to a lack of knowledge. For example, point out to them the increase in the value of their apartment, increased living comfort, lower maintenance costs and a healthier living environment. If you need help with this, contact a specialized company for advice.”

What will the improvements cost and what will you save? And how much subsidy will you receive?
This is difficult to say because it depends on how well insulated you house already is. To give an example: moving from single glass to HR++ is best, but also more expensive, because more windows need to be replaced. If you switch from (old) double glazing to HR++, this will cost less, but this adjustment also results in fewer energy savings. For subsidies, a number of terms and conditions apply; on average the subsidy is about 13%.

Can you also make a rented house more sustainable? If so, how?
As a tenant, it can be difficult to adjust things in or around the house. The housing association or owner of the rental property has to pay for such improvement for the most part. Martin: “The insulation of the outer shell, installing a heat pump or solar panels are their responsibility. It is therefore important that the landlord gets something in return. You can make new agreements with your landlord about the rent or agree that you will move in a number of years, so that a higher rent can be set.” Fortunately, you can do some things yourself: live energy-efficiently, purchase more sustainable appliances such as a refrigerator or washing machine, use sustainable energy and recycle your waste.

Von Poll Real Estate