ABN AMRO takes on the challenge of making 700,000 homes more energy-efficient

The Energy Savings Check gives homeowners an instant overview of specific measures they can take to save energy in their homes and supports them in the implementation process. ABN AMRO aims to make over 700,000 homes more energy-efficient – a move which will benefit the environment and homeowners alike.

Solar panels on the roof? Double glazing? Or maybe reflective panels behind the radiators? These days, lots of homeowners are looking for ways to make their homes more sustainable. But how do you get the most bang for your buck? And what about maximising home comfort, the environmental benefits and potential savings? “These days, many homeowners can’t see the forest for the trees,” admits Rogier Nieuwkamp, Head of Experiments & Projects at ABN AMRO’s Customer Experience Retail. As a result, they’re often unaware of the significant saving options available to them.

Nieuwkamp says this missed opportunity means nearly 40 per cent of all Dutch carbon emissions are generated by the built environment. “ABN AMRO intends to make a dent in that rate by launching its Mission 2030 campaign. By 2030, all properties on its balance sheet – those owned by the bank itself and by its clients – must have an average energy label rating of A, awarded to only the most energy-efficient buildings.”

Nieuwkamp continues, “One of the ways we’re bringing about this change is by making it easy for owners to make their homes more sustainable. To that end, the bank has teamed up with De Energiebespaarders (or “The Energy Savers”), a start-up that uses data in innovative ways to educate homeowners about the benefits of sustainability. Their analysis takes into account payback time, comfort and the contribution to a better environment.”

Removing barriers

By completing the Energy Savings Check, consumers can see in less than a minute which energy saving options will be most profitable for them. “It’s a customised tool, since no two of the 700,000 homes in our mortgage portfolio are the same,” says Nieuwkamp. Once the check has been carried out, De Energiebespaarders can help guide the owner in making the home greener, working together with established partners. The options range from installing solar panels to insulating a cavity wall.

During the design stage, the main focus of the Energy Savings Check was to give homeowners the information they needed to act. Indeed, various studies show that getting homeowners to take action is the main challenge. “Half of all homeowners plan to make their homes more sustainable at some point, but in the end only about one per cent of them actually ever get around to having the work done,” says Nieuwkamp.

“It’s clear that a lack of understanding of their options is a major barrier. For many of us with little or no experience in these matters, it’s hard to know how to go about choosing the best quote for, say, having solar panels fitted. Uncertainty about the payback period of the investment and what the impact a future move might have can keep people from taking action, too.”

Consumers can also choose to make an appointment for an energy saver specialist to carry out an inspection with them and document the current energy profile of the home in an Energy Passport. ABN AMRO clients are eligible for a discount – they pay only EUR 89, as opposed to non-clients, who are charged EUR 119.

Early results show that when homeowners have an understanding of the necessary investment and return thanks to the Energy Savings Check, they’re far likelier to make changes. Key to their decision is the Energy Passport, which provides specific information about saving options in the home.

Having home improvements made doesn’t have to be an obstacle either, says Nieuwkamp. If they wish, homeowners can simply hand everything over to De Energiebespaarders, letting them organise quotes and oversee the work. Nieuwkamp says, “In that case, they manage every aspect of making the home more sustainable, taking all the pressure off the owner while still ensuring quality.” ABN AMRO is there to help finance the improvements.

More comfort is crucial

The Energy Savings Check has been available to consumers for a few months now, and initial reactions have been positive, Nieuwkamp says. In the first phase, the bank used the Energy Savings Check to focus on those of its clients deemed most open to sustainability. This group consists mainly of consumers who have owned their home for some time and have taken steps in the past to make it more sustainable.

“We’re seeing that these consumers place a premium not only on the environment, but also on more comfort and on saving on their energy bill. This group of clients says, ‘Green is great, but I want to reap the benefits, too.’ The insight provided by the Energy Savings Check in terms of investment and return gives us the means to inspire them and effect change. Their experiences are also proving invaluable in our efforts to win over other homeowners like neighbours and friends. After all, the sustainability bug is catching!”