How to boost your Building Energy Rating (BER)

Boosting your home’s energy rating can slash your energy bills, make your house warmer and even unlock cheaper mortgage deals. Here’s how to improve your BER and save money.

What is a Building Energy Rating (BER)?

A Building Energy Rating (BER) shows the energy performance of your home and grades your home’s energy efficiency on a scale of A-G.

A-rated homes are most energy-efficient and G-rated homes are the least. The higher your BER, the lower your energy use is; for instance, an A-rated house conserves heat better so less fuel is needed to keep it warm.

An A-rated home will benefit from lower energy bills, whereas a G-rated home will attract high energy bills.

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The BER certificate

A BER certificate is required for the majority of homes for sale or rent in Ireland and BER details must be included in advertisements when a home is on the market.

Since 2007 all new homes are required to have a BER certificate. It ensures all new dwellings are built with energy-efficient designs, materials, and appliances in line with the Government’s Sustainable Energy Policy.

Why is it required?

An owner must provide a BER to prospective buyers or tenants when a home is offered for sale or rent and homeowners must obtain a BER before a new home is occupied for the first time.

A BER is required on a dwelling when it is:

  • Offered for sale off plans (provisional BER)
  • A new dwelling for occupation
  • Offered for sale or rent
  • Undergoing work that requires a grant from SEAI

Exemptions apply to protected, historic structures and temporary or derelict properties.

How long is a BER certificate valid for?

A BER certificate is valid for 10 years provided there’s no change to your home that could affect the energy performance.

For unbuilt homes, a Provisional BER based on plans for your home is only valid for 2 years.

How do you get a BER?

BERs are carried out by independent assessors registered with SEAI. The assessor will need between 30 minutes and an hour to do the inspection depending on the size of your home.

You can find a list of registered BER assessors at SEAI.iei. Just search in your area or check if an assessor is registered.

How much does a BER certificate cost?

There is no set fee for a BER certificate so it’s wise to shop around to get the best price.

A one-bedroom apartment will cost between €100 and €150 and a three-bedroom house could cost between €200 and €300 depending on the size of the property.

Make sure you get written quotes before commissioning a BER assessment and check the following:

  1. Is the assessor insured and registered
  2. Is the price quoted inclusive of the SEAI Registration Charge
  3. Does the price include VAT

Make your home energy efficient

The BER calculation

A BER is based on the calculated energy performance and associated carbon dioxide emissions from room and water heating, ventilation and lighting under standardised conditions.

Used in the calculation are:

  • the house dimensions
  • the house orientation
  • types of window
  • level of insulation
  • heating & hot water system efficiencies

Although a BER takes into account how many people live at the property, it doesn’t include electricity used for purposes other than heating, lighting, pumps and fans.

What are the different BER ratings?

BER grade Example  
A1 brand new, highly efficient purpose-built house  
A3 most new urban homes, usually include solar panels  
B1 a modern 10-20 year old property, with additional efficiency improvements  
B3 a modern or retrofitted property, depending on the age of the house and the extent of improvements  
C1 a common 15-20 year old property with double glazing and attic insulation but no other measures  
C2 a well-built rural property with oil-fired heating, insulation and efficient heating  
C3 a typical apartment in a 10-15 year old development  
D1 a 20-40 year old house with double glazing, gas boiler and some insulation  
D2 as 2-40 year old house with just double glazing and an older boiler  
E a 30-40+ year old house with no improvements or double glazing  
F an older property, barely a shell with single glazed windows and no insulation  

Despite the calculation used, a BER is only an indication of the energy performance of a home.

How to boost your BER

Improving your BER will reduce your energy costs and make your home warmer and more comfortable.

The majority of homes in Ireland are C or D, but the higher your rating the more energy savings you can make.

Here’s some ways to boost your BER and save money on your energy bills and enhance the value of your house.

  • Insulate your hot water cylinder and pipework
  • Increase the insulation in your walls, attic and floor
  • Install energy-efficient windows and glazing
  • Replace an old or inefficient boiler with a newer, efficient one
  • Better ventilation or air conditioning
  • Install the latest heating controls
  • Install renewable heating systems such as solar panels

Find more top energy savings tips

What grants and financial help are available?

The SEAI offers a range of Home Energy Grants for homeowners and those undertaking a self-build. Home Energy Grants are available for the following:

  • Insulation - up to €6,000
  • Heat Pump Systems - up to €3,500
  • Heating Controls -up to €700
  • Solar Water Heating - up to €1,200
  • Solar Electricity - up to €2,400

Can you borrow money to carry out the work?

Yes, several Irish banks offer Green personal loans and homeowner loans designed for improving your home’s energy efficiency. You’ll just need to provide evidence of work and grants obtained to benefit from discounted loan rates.

Compare discounted Green loans

Several banks are also offering discounted mortgage rates for homeowners with a good BER rating. Find out whether you may qualify for a Green mortgage from the Bank of Ireland or Allied Irish Bank (AIB).

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