The kitchen window slams shut and then Francis Langedijk of the FIXbrigade knows enough. The wooden frame of the window, which was placed by the resident as the main source of draft, collides with the frame. There are draft strips, but the blow betrays that it no longer closes properly. “The rubber is sleeping”, says Langedijk to his four students who are completing the FIXbrigade today.
They will take care of this rental home in the Oosterparkbuurt in one day. Nothing has happened there for 22 years, says resident Claudia (58), who does not want her stored in the newspaper. She has lived in this ground floor apartment for so long, where the Eigen Haard housing corporation has only painted the outside once all these years. They notice every day that the windows and doors do not close properly. “From the kitchen it blows into the living room.”
According to her energy company, she will lose 500 euros per month this year. Until last year that was still 144 euros. It is unbearable inside without firing. In the middle of winter she has seen the thermometer inside at 10 degrees. “I’m actually always fiddling. In my maximum I use as much gas as a single-family home.”
That is why she invited the FIXbrigade. Three students from Langedijk – status holders from Eritrea, Syria and Iran – fitted all windows and doors in the bedrooms and the kitchen with new draft excluders, an ROC trainee bends over the front door. They set up hanging LED lamps, properly adjust the central heating boiler and hanging radiator foil. For Amsterdammers with an income lower than 140 percent of the social minimum, it is all free.
For example, the FIXbrigade has made hundreds of homes draft-proof from the Dapperbuurt over the past four years, on behalf of residents’ organization Jungle Amsterdam. “I get the jitters when rubbers don’t close properly,” says Langedijk, who is the force behind the FIXbrigade together with project leader Jannekee Jansen op de Haar. It makes him angry, even sad. “We see so much overdue maintenance.”
His is heading towards boiling point when an Overseer of Eigen Haard even comes to take a direction. He said the draft inside the home was “not so shocking.” “What does he expect then?” says Langedijk, when the supervisor is gone. “Cracks in the wall? We care about the journey. That is considered too little for him. They don’t care.” Thanks to the FIXbrigade, the door closes so well that it has to be pressed down extra when closing. “This is going to improve a lot.”
That is the whole idea behind the FIXbrigade: drafts make a house so uncomfortable that residents keep the stove higher without getting hot. Closing gaps therefore saves a lot of energy, explains Jansen op de Haar. “Without a draft, 19 degrees is suddenly enough for them.”
In the meantime, Amsterdammers are being trained for the labor market, long-term with an unemployed, status holders and dropouts, for technical work that has a clear advantage on the Amsterdam labor market. “There is so much talent that goes untapped.”
Volunteer for years
In the election campaign for the municipal elections, the FIXbrigade was almost hugged to death. One party after the other praised the initiative from East as the recipe for energy poverty. The gas price exploded. when The Parool two years ago, the neighborhood initiative still had to support itself with a small subsidy from the city district. Only after an ex-alderman Marieke, made possible in part by European subsidy, began to be employed this year, at all he has done the work as a volunteer.
Meanwhile, Jansen op de Haar and Langedijk are receiving enthusiastic reactions from all over the country. Climate Minister Rob Jetten came to take a behavior and many municipalities want to adopt the idea. In short with the cabinet announcing the price ceiling on Budget Day, the ‘fix brigades’ were also referred to as the ‘all-around’ in the Van Dale state. The Amsterdam initiative has become a household name.
Jungle Amsterdam has developed a starter pack that allows other municipalities to copy the idea. In Amsterdam it remained silent for a long time. The FIXG must alternatively that it starts with Muiderpoorttheater lost as a base. “Everywhere in the Netherlands, municipalities are saying: this is exactly what we need. Actually, Amsterdam is lagging behind a bit,” says Jansen op de Haar.
Most Vulnerable Households
The question is good that the idea can be copied quickly. Five people were busy all day in the Oosterparkbuurt, which is how intensive it is to make houses draught-proof. And anyone can learn it just like that? Insulation is the best. If the gap is as large as the tip of the screwdriver, a different rubber has to be inserted than if you were past all pink in it, Langedijk points out. For the time being, the three teams of the FIXbrigade help about forty households a month at the most.
Those are the households in the leakiest homes that are vulnerable to sky-high energy bills. Just like Jansen op de Haar, Langedijk maintains that there is no other option than sending fixers along. Energy coaches, online tutorials of vouchers are not a solution for this target group.
The vouchers are completely consumed by LED lamps, Van Langedijk can find the radiator foil in the kitchen drawer. “Because there was no one to hang it.” Jans op de Haar: “People with a small budget do not benefit much from an energy coach, because everything that is received to save, they have often already done themselves.”
One hundred fix brigades
Energy company Vattenfall, Rabobank, ABN Amro and Shell, together with the Ministry of the Interior, have raised money for a growth spurt of the FIXbrigade. With 1,250,000 euros, it is possible to expand to a hundred teams in eighty municipalities.
There, too, it is intended that status holders and future batons can be trained as team leaders for a new FIX brigade. In this way, twenty thousand homes must be made draught-proof.
Vattenfall, which took the initiative for fundraising among companies, praises the method of the FIXbrigade. “That something is actually being done at home to save energy,” says Heleen Boer of Vattenfall. “The faster the FIXbrigade expands, the more households we can help when it gets really cold.”