Sustainable renovation pays off
An advance on the future, letting you get the benefit from the added convenience straight away. That is how Martin de Knegt describes the energy-saving measures in his home. He got inspired at the Smart Refurbishment event organised by the Dutch local Rabobank Waterland en Omstreken. He was able to get financing from this bank as well.
Triple glazing, high-quality façade insulation, a low-temperature heating system. The De Knegt family home in Edam (near Amsterdam, the Netherlands) will be undergoing a radical makeover in the spring of 2015 – not least because, in addition to these energy-saving measures, the renovation of the entire ground floor, kitchen, garage, bedrooms and attic is on the agenda as well.
It all started with window frames. De Knegt and his wife wanted to replace the existing aluminium window frames in their home and, at the same time, have double glazing installed upstairs. ‘The house needed to have some work done – a great opportunity to make energy savings’, he explains. But new aluminium window frames turned out to be difficult to find. ‘Through the National Energy Savings Fund, we were informed about the guidelines for sustainability and the technical figures. We used that knowledge to draw up specs for the project, which we then sent to a number of different manufacturers, inviting quotations for the work. It took some time, but luckily we ended up finding a window-frame manufacturer who was able to make the frames after all. And it turned out that they were cheaper with triple glazing than plastic window frames with double glazing. That just goes to show you that a sustainable renovation pays off in all sorts of different ways.’
But they did not stop at the window frames. The radiators, for example, needed replacing as well. Their heating engineer told Martin de Knegt about the ‘Smart Refurbishment’ event organised by the local Rabobank Waterland and Omstreken. At the event, around twenty local heating engineers, contractors and advisors presented different possibilities for making homes more sustainable, ranging from solar panels to a rainwater toilet. They also offered advice about how to bring down your energy bills and finance a renovation. It was at this event that Martin de Knegt met the contractor who would end up carrying out his renovation.
That contractor is Chris de Boer, director of the Mercuur Bouw construction company. ‘We do a lot of sustainable renovations’, he says. ‘If you have got your savings in the bank, with the current interest rates, your funds end up being eaten away. You are better off putting your money into the sustainable renovation of your home. That not only leads to increasing your comfort and your enjoyment of your home, but also immediately results in a considerable reduction in your heating costs. I often walk through my customers' homes with an infrared camera. That gives you a really clear sense of how much heat people are losing. It is a real waste. Sometimes this can be solved with very simple measures, ranging from sustainable flooring and filling the cavity walls to insulation glazing and smart boilers. The De Knegt family will feel the difference in their home – I am convinced of that.’
Bringing different parties together
Making homes more sustainable is something that Rabobank has very much thrown its weight behind. Bas Rüter, Director of Sustainability at Rabobank: ‘Our society needs to make the transition to sustainability. Rabobank is supporting this transformation, guided by the ambitions of our customers and the interests of society as a whole. And, of course, we love to bring different parties together, such as the businesses and consumers at the Smart Refurbishment event. And we have a commercial interest too. As a leading mortgage provider, we hold many properties as collateral. We like people to invest in them.’
The De Knegt family's savings are not enough to finance the complete make-over, so the family turned to the local Rabobank Waterland en Omstreken for financing. To provide financial support to homeowners so that they can undertake these kinds of renovations, Rabobank offers a range of different possibilities. ‘Depending on your situation, it may be smart to use your own funds for it, but the Energiebespaarlening (Energy Saving Loan) can also be a good option. Larger-scale renovations, such as the De Knegt family's, can often be financed as part of the existing mortgage. And finally, people can also benefit from a number of special schemes, which have been further expanded as of 1 January 2015.’
Martin de Knegt and his wife cannot wait for their renovation to be all done. ‘We are going to have a home that fulfils our every wish, and that will stand us in good stead for years to come.’