More heat waves, periods of drought and intense precipitation. This is what awaits us by 2050, as the United Nations warned in its latest report.
So Flanders wants to phase out fossil fuels such as fuel oil and gas by 2050. In addition, its renewal charter states the ambition that by 2050 every home and apartment in Flanders will have an A energy label. These labels range from A+ (energy saving) extremely) to F (energy consuming). Energy rating A stands for energy performance grade of a maximum of 100 kWh/m2 for an existing home or level E with a maximum of E60 for a new build or major renovation.
Flanders aspires that by 2050, every home will have an A energy label.
“There is still a long way to go. Barely 4.6 per cent of about 3 million homes and apartments have achieved this target,” says Gert Phelps, communications director at VEKA. The average power rating is D.
The energy label is only required when selling or renting a home. Don’t have any plans to buy or sell and still want to get an idea of how energy efficient your home is? You can estimate your home’s energy label and compare it with that of other homes via the EPC tool at energiesparen.be. The test also provides tips on how to improve your energy score.
Builders and renovators in any case must meet increasingly stringent energy standards. Newly built homes have been required to meet BEN standards since this year. BEN stands for almost energy neutral, which corresponds to a maximum E level of E30. Anyone doing a complete makeover can get a maximum E60 from next year.
1 Energy neutral approx
BEN buildings use little energy for heating, ventilation, cooling and hot water. Still, Phelps says, the energy that is still needed is being sourced entirely from green energy sources. Think of a heat pump and solar panels. Suppose you can’t insulate your home very much. Keep in mind that a well-insulated home must also be equipped with a high-performance ventilation system.
Suppose you can’t insulate your home very much.
If you really want to make your home climate resistant, avoid oil and gas heating. According to the Energy Charter, only renewable energy can be used in Belgium from 2050. Fuel oil must be phased out completely by 2035, and gas will give a deadline until 2050. The Flemish government is further tightening this target and has decided that it will not soon be allowed to install fuel oil boilers in New buildings and major energy renovations. The Flemish Parliament is also preparing a ban on replacing existing fuel oil boilers. Gas communications in large allotments, apartment buildings and mass housing projects is now out of the question.
2 Arm yourself against drought and flood
As the mid-July floods painfully illustrate, climate-resistant life doesn’t stop at the walls of your home (energy-saving or not). “Good water infiltration is becoming increasingly important,” says Phelps. Avoid building in flood-prone areas, lubricate the lawn (front) and store as much rainwater as possible via a rainwater tank, rain barrels, and possibly a green roof. By replacing your garden (in part) with ground covers and plants, and by creating a pond or valley, you can arm yourself against frequent droughts.
With the goal of increasing the frequency of heat waves, cooling is not an unnecessary luxury. The natural cooling provided by trees that provide shade (and absorb water) is preferred over solar-powered shading. Installing an air conditioner is a “great idea”.
3 financial incentives
The Flemish government encourages energy-efficient construction and renovation with all kinds of tax benefits, installments and loans.
With the Fluvius network operator, you can get premiums for, for example, the installation of insulation materials, glazing, solar boilers, heat pumps, and solar panels in existing homes. New from 2021 is the EPC hallmark for all homes,” says Gert Phelps from VEKA. The premium is a maximum of 2,500 to 5,000 euros for a house and a maximum of 3,750 euros for an apartment.
Low- or middle-income owners who are renovating a home that is more than 30 years old can claim the renovation premium.
Low- or middle-income owners who are renovating a home more than 30 years old can claim a renovation premium from Wonen-Vlaanderen. Four categories of renovation work are eligible: Structural, Exterior Carpentry, Roofing and Artistic Fixtures. Compensation is 20 or 30 percent of the bill, excluding VAT, with a maximum of 2,500 or 3,333 euros per category.
Anyone who buys an energy-efficient home this year and makes it energy-efficient in five years, can borrow up to €60,000 for free from their bank via the interest-free renewal loan. Anyone who inherits or acquires a home can go to the local Energy House for an Energy+ loan, which is provided according to approximately the same modalities. Some vulnerable target groups can also get an energy loan of up to 15,000 euros via local energy houses, to be repaid over ten years at 0 percent interest.
If you buy a home that you’ll completely renovate in five years, you’ll pay a 5 percent purchase tax instead of the standard rate of 6 percent. Major active renovation (IER) means that you are (re)insulating at least 75 percent of your home’s exterior envelope—think facade, roof, and windows—and that you’re replacing the entire generator for heating or cooling.
If you get a house and have a contractor doing major energy renovations for at least €10,000 (excluding VAT) in five years, you’ll pay a lower rate of gift tax on that gift.
Between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022, under certain conditions, you may be entitled to the reduced VAT rate of 6 percent on demolition and rebuilding instead of the 21 percent across Belgium. If you do not qualify, you can, under certain conditions, apply for a demolition and reconstruction allowance of €10,000 from the Flemish Energy and Climate Agency (VEKA).
Anyone who builds or renovates in a way that is more energy-efficient than what is legally required, pays only half or even no property tax in Flanders for five years, the annual property tax based on the cadastral income of the house.
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