The Tweede Kamer and Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge both want to lower the energy bill for people on lower and middle incomes as quickly as possible to make it affordable. In a parliamentary debate, coalition and opposition parties urged more speed in making homes more sustainable. But the Minister did not immediately embrace various proposals. He will, however, investigate a “draught discount.” The PvdA proposed this measure to reduce the rent for people in poorly insulated homes so that residents can pay their high energy bills.
According to PvdA parliamentarian Joris Thijssen, such a draught discount is “a necessary patch for people who now have to choose between cooking and heating.” The government plans aim to make all houses more sustainable. Once that has happened, the measure will no longer be necessary, Thijssen said. He immediately added that this would take years.
Although De Jonge finds the PvdA proposal sympathetic, he does not want landlords to have less money to invest in sustainability due to a reduced rental income. “The proposal is not off the table, but it must meet several preconditions before I really think it’s a good idea,” said De Jonge during the debate. He will inform parliament around the beginning of June whether the advantages of such a discount outweigh the disadvantages.
D66 believes that the Cabinet should take more control of making homes more sustainable. Faissal Boulakjar called on the Minister to start a national insulation offensive this year to take “significant steps” in the large-scale insulation of homes and buildings. According to De Jonge, it can’t go any faster. The Cabinet has already prepared “just about everything you can think of” in measures “to promote the affordability of sustainability.” He called it important to ensure that these measures “reach the people who need it most.”
The SP and VVD want the government to tackle fraud and cheating with energy labels more harshly. If energy labels of homes are presented too rosy, tenants have to pay a higher rent but also a higher energy bill. SP and VVD want to end this through investigation, supervision, and fines. Fines for repeat offenders should increase in such a way that affected tenants can be compensated, SP MP Sandra Beckerman proposed, along with VVD MP Peter de Groot.
“You need to be confident that you know how economical your home is,” Beckerman said. “It is important that there is no cheating and that you, as a tenant or homeowner, don’t pay more or less than you should.” In recent years, parliament has passed several motions calling on the government to tackle fraud with energy labels. “But it still goes wrong,” said Beckerman. “This system allows for fraud, and cheaters still get away with it.”
“Given current techniques, the way energy labels are issued for homes – once every ten years and without checking the true energy consumption – is outdated and prone to errors and tampering,” said De Groot. “The Cabinet must ensure that the actual data, in combination with the home’s energy consumption, is processed digitally. Then the energy label is up-to-date, and abuses are prevented.”
De Jonge agreed that people should be able to rely on the issued label. Research showed that 93 percent of the labels are good. So too many mistakes are being made, the Minister said. He is working on additional measures aimed at “tighter monitoring and tiger sanctioning of underperforming advisors.”