The Side Job: Roald saves energy

'I am eager to help create a more equal society.'
Photo Joëlle Schokker

Who: Roald Nooijens (24)
What: ‘Draughtbuster’, or energy expert
Why: Roald wants a more equal society
Hourly wage: 29 euro per hour (gross), as energy expert

You’ve got to make ends meet somehow. We can all borrow from Uncle Duo, but there are also students who earn money in unusual ways, like Roald Nooijens (24), a Master’s student of Forest and Nature Conservation. As a ‘draughtbuster’, he calls on Wageningen residents to help them reduce their energy bills.

‘I visit people in their homes. I bring all sorts of things with me, such as draught strips, insulating window foil, radiator foil, low-energy light bulbs and flaps for the inside of the letterbox. I install it all as well, and I provide advice along with material. The most important suggestion is of course: see if you are still comfortable with the thermostat one degree lower. And then: a sofa or curtains in front of the radiator prevent the heat from spreading, and then you’ll set the thermostat higher than necessary. This project started with the slogan ‘how low can you go?’ It was already the case that any resident of Wageningen could request a visit from me or my colleagues. But now there is an energy crisis and the project has entered a second phase.

This job takes me right out of my academic bubble

Now I go door-to-door with the housing association. The more major interventions like wall insulation or fixing a crooked window frame have to be dealt with by the housing association. We concentrate on older streets and buildings where more vulnerable people live. There I am sometimes able to hand out more luxury items, such as a smart meter or an electric blanket.

‘The city council noticed a growing gap between rich and poor and a group of residents that struggled to keep up with the energy transition. With this project, we want to counter inequality while making Wageningen greener and more environmentally friendly. I am eager to help create a more equal society. In my opinion, a lot of policy is a long way off what is needed. That big subsidy for electric cars, for example: that is no use to the families I visit. This job takes me right out of my academic bubble. I come across some harrowing cases. Houses that are one big mess and people screaming at each other. I encounter a lot of frustration with the authorities. But most of all, I meet with a lot of gratitude. People are very happy with the help we can give them.’

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