Last week, Duurzame Week received an Energiebox, a literal box full of products that help Utrecht residents improve their living comfort and consume less energy. But that’s not the entire story. In fact, the process begins with a customized consulting session with an energy coach, who helps you become aware of your consumption pattern and work on developing new habits to achieve better comfort. This way, you have the advice and the tools to live more sustainably by consuming less energy. And, very importantly, everything is free of charge.
The project has been around since 2014, and is a initiative of environmental consulting agency JMA, the municipality of Utrecht and the housing corporations Mitros, Portaal, SSH, GroenWest and Bo-Ex. The goal is to influence the residents’ mindset to reduce resident energy consumption, and the results are impressive.
After helping 4.732 renters in Utrecht, the project has recently been expanded to homeowners, and is now also available in Nieuwegein, Stichtse Vecht, Amersfoort, Capelle aan den IJssel and Eindhoven. In the past years, those municipalities together have had 7.989 client households, each saving an average of 257 kWh per year. The savings is equivalent to the capacity of 133.816 trees to absorb CO2, and corresponds to a total of 902.757 euros in savings per year!
How to get your hands on a box
As a resident of one of the municipalities mentioned above you can get in touch with Energiebox directly, online or by phone. While in Utrecht both renters and homeowners can receive the benefit, this criterion may be different across municipalities, so Energiebox will determine eligibility in your specific case.
With your request and information in hand, they either send you the box and schedule a call, or bring the box to you in the case of a Corona-proof, in person, appointment with the energy coach.
Before speaking to you, the coach gathers information about the structure of your home, which is public information, like when it was built and what type of insulation was used in the construction. The appointment lasts between 45 minutes and one hour. The coach asks several questions about your household and about your and your roommates’ (or family’s) energy consumption habits, for example: what kind of light bulbs you have at home (fluorescent, incandescent?), how many TVs you have, how long you take to shower, if you turn off the lights when not using them, what temperature you like inside during the cold months, etc.
Based on all this, the coach explains how to use the tools in the box for your benefit, and how to change your behavior. Everything is based on your home’s energy consumption data, and it is very interesting to see that small steps go a long way in energy savings. For example, by washing your clothes at 40 degrees instead of 60 degrees, you use 50% less energy. As far as the items in the box go, here are a few examples of the savings the coach anticipates in the case of Duurzame Week:
- By using the shower coach, a timer to shower in 5 minutes, we can save 80 euros per year. And we will also be saving water, of course;
- the socket plug with an on/off switch for electronics (such as your TV, coffee maker, etc.) gets rid of the energy “leaks” caused by the standby lights that remain on. They turn the devices completely off, saving about 50 euros per year.
- the draft seal or tape can be placed anywhere you feel a draft coming from the outside. Those are very common around doors and windows, but also on attic spaces where there are storage compartments on outside walls. Depending on the type of windows, doors, and insulation your house has, the savings here can be very significant, up to 100 euros per year. That is because, when you have less draft, you are able to set your thermostat on a lower temperature. This tool then generates double savings and much more comfort.
Return on investment
The coach may indicate you need items that are not included in the box. This can vary from a small investment, like buying a water saving shower head, to hiring an insulation specialist to fix more serious issues. Of course you can decide what to do and when to do it, according to your own possibilities. A smart way of making that decision is to consider the time of return on investment that the coach indicates. That means you can know beforehand how long it will take for you to recover the money you invested in specific measures.
In the case of the shower head, it is a quick return for a small investment. They usually sell for 20 euros, and in 13 months you have that money back due to savings.
In conclusion, the Energiebox brings you more comfort at home and financial savings. It is definitely worth your time, and we highly recommend the service provided and the products received, with many thanks to Energiebox Utrecht!