Dutch decisiveness: mandatory heat pumps and energy labels

07 July 2022

‘To be the first brave ones’, the Dutch do it again. From 2026, whenever a heating system needs to be replaced, homeowners will be obliged to install a heat pump. The norm will be a hybrid heat pump, but fully electric would be even better. Or a sustainable alternative, such as connection to the district heat network. And that’s not all that’s happening when it comes to accelerating sustainability in homes. From 2030, homes with an E, F or G energy label can no longer be rented out by housing organisations or private landlords.


“There is great urgency for sustainability and we must increase the pace. This is why the hybrid heat pump will become the standard from 2026 onwards when the central heating boiler needs to be replaced,” says the Dutch Minister for Housing Hugo de Jonge. And he doesn’t stop there. His sustainability plans state that housing associations and private landlords will no longer be allowed to rent out homes with an E, F or G energy label from 2030 onwards. There are currently 580,000 rental homes in the Netherlands that have these poor energy labels. It had already been agreed with housing associations that they would phase out these poorly insulated homes from 2028 onwards. What is new is that it will also be required by law and it will also apply to private landlords.


Cast in concrete

Logical steps that have been on the table for some time are now being cast in concrete. So what do those steps look like? Well, up until 2030 homeowners will receive a subsidy when purchasing a heat pump and there will be 3 extra heat pump factories and more mechanics to help install them. However, it is of the utmost importance that homeowners have installed solar panels to generate the energy for the heat pump. And, perhaps even more crucial, the home must be well insulated. If not, the home will leak so much energy that it will be impossible to counteract this and gas will still be required to heat the house to a pleasant temperature. A positive side of the story is that whoever follows the required steps of installing insulation, solar panels and heat pumps, will automatically begin to improve their energy label up to A, B, C or D: exactly the mandatory energy label that is required from 2030 on. This is definitely a win-win situation here.


EU climate ministers agree

But, to be fair, it’s not just the Netherlands that are speeding up on this issue. Europe is making it clear, once again, that they are the global climate frontrunner. Last week, EU climate ministers reached an agreement on a European climate package.

EU Member States have already agreed to be climate neutral by 2050 in their Green Deal. To achieve this, the European Commissioner Frans Timmermans tabled the Fit for 55 package last year, with policies to reduce CO2 emissions by 55% by 2030. This is exactly what they agreed to in Luxembourg this week. Consensus was found on five laws to reform the EU’s carbon market, targets for carbon sinks, national emission reduction goals and the phaseout of combustion-engine cars — cornerstones of the EU’s plan to curb planet-warming emissions. Leading to a great deal that moves the European Union one step closer to implementing sweeping measures intended to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 55% this decade. A great day for the Green Deal!


Okay, so the Dutch might be the first to take massive steps on sustainability in homes. But let’s make sure they’re not the only ones to reach the 2050 Green Deal targets. Come on Europe, show us what you’ve got. Fit for 55: on your marks, get set, go!

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