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.
When it comes to energy bills, an A-rated home will benefit from lower energy costs, whereas a G-rated home will attract high energy bills.
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 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 do you get a BER?
BERs are carried out by independent assessors registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (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.ie. Just search in your area or check if an assessor is registered.
How long is a BER certificate valid?
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.
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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:
- Is the assessor insured and registered
- Is the price quoted inclusive of the SEAI Registration Charge
- Does the price include VAT
What are the different BER ratings?
|brand new, highly efficient purpose-built house
|most new urban homes, usually include solar panels
|a modern 10-20 year old property, with additional efficiency improvements
|a modern or retrofitted property, depending on the age of the house and the extent of improvements
|a common 15-20 year old property with double glazing and attic insulation but no other measures
|a well-built rural property with oil-fired heating, insulation and efficient heating
|a typical apartment in a 10-15 year old development
|a 20-40 year old house with double glazing, gas boiler and some insulation
|a 2-40 year old house with just double glazing and an older boiler
|a 30-40+ year old house with no improvements or double glazing
|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.
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.
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.
Used in the calculation are:
- the house dimensions
- the house orientation
- types of window
- level of insulation
- heating & hot water system efficiencies
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.
What grants and financial help are available?
- Insulation - up to €8,000
- Heat Pump Systems - up to €6,500
- Heating Controls - up to €700
- Solar Water Heating - up to €1,200
What’s the SEAI one stop shop?
This SEAI’s one stop shop is a full-serviced home energy upgrade. It includes a home energy assessment, grant application, project management and any contractor work.
It’s a good option for homeowners who want multiple home energy upgrades and don’t want the hassle of managing a large project themselves.
Can you borrow money to carry out the work?
Yes, some other one stop shop packages, like An Post’s Green Hub or the credit union’s Greener Homes, include a loan as part of the offering.
As well as managing your grant application, BER assessment and contractor work, they’ll include a loan to cover any remaining costs.
Several Irish banks also 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.
Some Irish banks are offering discounted mortgage rates for homeowners with a good BER rating. They’re called Green mortgages and are worth considering if your home has a rating of B3 or better.