A sign of Duwo on the facade of their office in Delft. The sign is in the shape of a speech bubble. The colour is red and it says 'Duwo' in white letters.
Duwo plans to make the buildings more sustainable and bring forward planned maintenance work. (Photo: Justyna Botor)

Students who rent through Duwo will have to pay higher service costs in January. The rising energy prices mean that they will have to pay EUR 80 more on average every month.

Lees in het Nederlands

Up to now it was mostly private landlords that passed on the higher energy prices to students. But now some social student housing providers are doing this too.

Among them is Duwo, that will increase the monthly energy payment for tenants in January. The long-term contract that the housing provider has with the Greenchoice energy supplier will come to an end at the end of this year. ""For the coming year, we have had to enter into new contracts. This still allows us to buy energy as cheaply as possible, but it does mean that from 1 January 2023 service charges will rise sharply", explains a spokesperson. Given the current energy prices, students will have to pay EUR 80 more on average every month for service costs. This amounts to almost EUR 1,000 a year.

This is rough estimate that is based on current energy prices ‘that constantly change’, emphasises the spokesperson.  “It is like looking into a glass ball. The real price level will be known in early December."

The price rise will vary across complexes and housing units. “Whether someone pays more or less than that EUR 80 will depend on the level of sustainability of the residence, such as if it is well insulated or has solar panels.”

Action plan
Anticipating the rising prices, Duwo is working on an action plan for energy saving measures. The housing provider plans to make the buildings more sustainable and bring forward planned maintenance work. “But these are long-term plans. In the short term we are looking at more simple energy saving measures with tenants. These could be using radiator foil, draught excluders, or water saving showers. Free advice from energy coaches is also an option. We are trying to work on behaviour and make people aware of their energy consumption.”

Duwo and other housing providers are arguing for a more comprehensive energy subsidy. People on low incomes can apply for a one-time energy subsidy of EUR 1,300 from the Municipality. Most municipalities exclude students from this subsidy. In Zwolle and Delft though, students may apply for an energy subsidy. That said, the conditions make it difficult for students. For this reason, Duwo and other housing providers want to call on the public adminstration to open the subsidy for all students.

Ominous
The housing provider says that it is unable to estimate how many students will be affected by the rising energy prices, “but we want to prevent these situations”. Vulnerable students are being prioritised. “These are mostly students in less well-insulated, independent housing. We will also shortly contact all our tenants to inform them of the rising prices and the measures that they can take to reduce the impact.”

‘We have no influence over our energy bill’

Anne* (real name known to the Editorial Office) would have preferred to have received this information earlier. She and her boyfriend live in a self-contained Duwo studio. “Up to now, we have not been informed about the rising prices. When I emailed with the question about the forecast for next year, I was told that the costs would double.” She calls this ‘ominous’ and ‘very unclear’. 

Anne lives in a studio with its own amenities (toilet and kitchen), but the studio does not have its own energy meter. “The costs are averaged out over the whole complex and the balance is sent after every calendar year.” The residents themselves have no information and no influence on their individual energy bill.

She is worried about what next year will bring. “I, and a lot of other students, will only feel the financial effects of this crisis in March 2023, and we are not given the chance to prepare for it properly.”

Unpredictable
According to Duwo, the situation now is very unpredictable. "The tricky thing is that we all have no control over it. All energy users are in the same boat. The key now is for municipalities, Duwo and our tenants to take action. Some of these actions are already underway. We would prefer to have one clear package available for all our tenants, but that is not possible. The price level of service charges for next year will be known in December. Before then, let's do everything we can to minimise the damage."