Natural gas-free home heating - how? Drents Engergieloket has some answers.

20 January 2023 - Published by Deirdre Buist
Starting the new year with a bang, the Stronghouse consortium has a hive of activities planned to inform, engage and support homeowners and neighbourhoods on their increasingly urgent journey towards energy efficiency and sustainable sources. In Drenthe, for instance, Drents Energieloket (DEL) just held a webinar for more almost 700 interested citizens – indicative of the enormous interest in greener heating alternatives in the area.

As we enter what is (normally) one of the coldest months of the year in the region, the challenges posed by booming energy costs and inflation, together with the impacts of political instability and  climate change, are causing many individuals to break out in a sweat.  For many, the next steps towards energy renovation are shaky,  full of doubt and uncertainty – there are so many questions. Luckily, DEL has some answers!

What is DEL?

Drents Energieloket (DEL) is a public advisory platform - a cooperation between the Province of Drenthe, its 12 municipalities, Natuur en Milieufederatie Drenthe and construction and technical organizations, joined under the Expedition for Energy-Neutral Living in the region.

DEL has been completely swamped over the past year, and our Stronghouse partner recognizes the need for a more expansive approach.  Besides regular energy markets and information events they organized a webinar on 17th January – reaching more than 690 potential energy retrofitters, all looking for answers to their individual needs and guidance for the next move.


Daniel van der Kleij (DEL) compares natural gas with hydrogen and biogas

A choice of technical alternatives

Daniel van der Kleij represents DEL in Stronghouse: “We recognize the enormous need for more information and advice. Many homeowners are overwhelmed by current events, feeling a constant pressure to adapt their energy consumption while also being told they must find an alternative for natural-gas heating. There are several technical options, but no standard one-size-fits-all solution. Each individual must make own choices based on  a number of parameters which can include the characteristics, style and current state of their home, their lifestyle, life phase, financial possibilities etc. Our advice is ‘don’t panic, make an informed choice that suits your situation’. “


Comparing efficiency of hydrogen and heat pump for single homes

Biogas, Hydrogen, District Heating

While a large part of the recent webinar focused on the increasingly popular heat pump, Daniel opened with a presentation that included biogas and hydrogen as alternatives for gas heating – setting out the pros and cons of each source for home heating. “Hydrogen is not an energy source but more a storage method (battery) and is now being implemented here and there in a neighbourhood context. On an individual housing scale the energy losses during electrolysis and storage are quite significant.

District heating is also an option but only viable with a high number of connected homes, preferably using heat residue from local industry for instance.

Combining measures

In Drenthe the focus is on all-electric as a solution for the individual homeowner. Many are considering or have already invested in solar panels – and then there’s the heat pump, which also runs on electricity. But, the heat pump draws more energy from the air than from the socket! Up to 4 times more. That makes it an interesting alternative for many – certainly in combination with solar panels, although these are not necessarily a requirement to achieve sizable savings!”


Jelte Sikkema of DEL shares some technical truths during the webinar

Heat pump performance

Colleague Jelte Sikkema  also shared a seemingly inexhaustible technical knowledge with the audience, describing the different sorts of heat pumps and the ins and outs of Hybrid, All-electric and All-electric Ready options. Jelte also elaborated on the latest noise regulations and the potential consequences for those living in a more urban environment. He gave a detailed description of how the heat pump works most effectively, providing several tips and tricks on how to reach the optimal Coefficient of Performance-  COP 4 – meaning top savings on energy and costs!

Is it worth it?

Jelte: ”Many people understandably question if the investment in a heat pump is worth it. Yes, it is dearer than an electric heater but if it can attain a COP value of 2.5 or more it is still cheaper than natural gas. The latest temporary government measures veil the real price of gas now and there is huge uncertainty about  future prices. Sometimes it is wiser for homeowners to invest in other measures first, such as insulation and double glazing, to get the full value out of a heat pump. Hybrid is a good option – although now there’s a waiting list of almost a year due to a shortage of material and schooled personnel in the technical sector.”

Financing, loans, subsidies

The last phase of the webinar  touched on possible financing choices, loans and available subsidies. Paradoxically, by taking out an energy loan the savings on heating bills can now possibly exceed the repayments on that loan. There was ample opportunity for the audience to ask questions – although  interest and engagement was so high that only a selection could be answered during the event itself. Afterwards however,  the remainder of questions were answered during personal calls.

Webinar available online

Feel you may have missed out? You can still watch the  full webinar