This success story is part of a series published within the MAKING-CITY project. The series aims to showcase the experiences of key stakeholders within the project. In this story, we learn about Ina and Boudewijn and their experience. Photo by Lyunda Stinissen.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF.
We are Ina and Boudewijn and have been living in our semi-detached house on Neptunusstraat in the Paddepoel district of Groningen for over 21 years. We were both born and raised in Groningen. Our three children were still young when we moved here, and they have left home some time ago. Ina is 61 years old. She has always worked in healthcare. Boudewijn is 62 years old, and is a financial controller.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU FIRST LEARN ABOUT POSITIVE ENERGY DISTRICTS?
At the beginning of the project, we read about it.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THE MAKING-CITY PROJECT?
We became involved via Paddepoel Energiek, a local active sustainability club in the area. An acquaintance told us about the project.
WHAT HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIVING IN A DEMO HOUSE BEEN LIKE?
The registration was a trigger to do more with sustainability. You know a lot more about it. The paving stone and the sign on the facade of the house inform people that we are participating in the project. Acquaintances and those who are interested in the Duurzame huizendag (sustainable housing day) ask a lot of questions. We had expected that there would be more interest from the neighbourhood, but you really have to get people excited, or they won’t come and see what’s happening on their own. We also talk about it at work.
On the other hand, if we weren’t a demo house, we wouldn’t have been able to make such an investment. You have to be able to afford it; 2 heat pumps and 26 solar panels were installed. Whether others can retrofit their homes without subsidies is still an open question.
HOW HAS THE RETROFITTING OF YOUR HOME IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?
We are more aware of our energy consumption and when we use which equipment. Because of the solar panels, we use certain devices during the day that we might have otherwise used in the evening or at night. We make more conscious choices in everyday life.
DURING YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT DID YOU BENEFIT FROM THE MOST?
It is interesting being self-sufficient—we generate and consume energy ourselves, and hope that the balance will become 0. Furthermore, we could not have imagined what is happening in the world right now and what that does to energy prices. The fact that we are now off the gas grid is quite a stroke of luck.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHERS CONSIDERING RETROFITTING THEIR HOMES?
The choices are different for every house. There must be a tailor-made solution for your home and you must know which choices you can make. The four demo houses in Groningen are different from each other and they have each been given different interpretations. With one house this fits, and with the other house that.
I would advise you to be well informed and to look to people who already have experience with it so that you can form an idea of what the best choices are. Take advantage of the opportunities in your area. For example in Groningen, there are energy coaches who can give you advice.