01 December 2023, by Emily Proctor

We all want lower energy bills, but some housing companies are searching tirelessly for a solution to the Netherlands’ reliance on gas. Now, one housing corporation in Amsterdam is rummaging through residents’ sewage in an attempt to warm up our houses

Riool-ly? Sewage?

Yes you read that right… According to The Guardian, Lieven de Key, a housing corporation in Amsterdam is set to become the first company pioneering a unique solution to the energy crisis, by using sewage – or riool – to heat 1.600 existing homes. 

The project’s leader Jeroen Rademaker explained why the company is exploring sewage as an alternative heat source: “Even when there’s snow in the winter, the sewer is warm. Warm sewage water flows 24 hours a day and we should capture it. This can happen wherever there is a big sewage pipe,” Rademaker told the newspaper. 

“The warmth comes from showers, the toilet, wastewater from washing, from the dishwasher, from the washing machine,” development manager Rienk Potsma added. “Together it all gives, throughout the year, a temperature between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius. And we are going to make a bypass around the main sewer, put a heat exchanger around it and bring it to the houses in insulated pipes. We place it in an electric heat pump, and the water is heated up to 60 or 70 – medium temperature.”

Riothermie could help the Netherlands go gas-free

As part of the project, the houses taking part will also have their double-glazing upgraded, as well as being equipped with new roof insulation and solar panels. The block’s heat pumps will be powered by solar energy, making the whole system amplifiable and sustainable. 

The project’s organisers and local residents are hopeful that the new method of heating and cooling could catch on in the future. Local resident Ad Jongen, 85, told The Guardian: “Maybe Amsterdam will go entirely gas-free in six or seven years,” he says. “You have to be prepared.”

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