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First introduced in Ireland in 2009, Building Energy Rating (BER) is a certificate that rates your home’s energy efficiency on a scale of A-G, with A-rated homes deemed the most energy efficient. Improving your BER will not only make your home more energy efficient, it will also increase the property’s value and decrease energy bills and carbon emissions.
Anyone considering selling or renting a property needs to do more than simply spruce it up and release it on the market. Today, potential buyers or tenants must also be informed about how energy efficient your home is.
Since 2009, a BER certificate is mandatory for all the buildings being constructed or offered for rent or sale in Ireland. Together with the more stringent building regulations introduced for new housing and homes undergoing significant upgrades, this ensures that all new dwellings are being built to a high levelof energy efficiency, in keeping with Ireland’s Climate Action Plan.
BER certificates measure the efficiency of a dwelling by calculating the CO2 emissions and KWh/m2/yr (Kilowatts per square metre, per year) of the property. They cover energy use for heating, ventilation, lighting and hot water and are calculated based on standard occupancy. Your home’s energy performance is graded on a sliding scale, similar to the energy label for household appliances that indicate an appliance’s energy consumption level.
The rating is based on the UK Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) rating with an A1 ranking denoting the highest level of energy performance, while at the opposite end of the scale, G-rated homes are the least energy- efficient and will come with costly energy bills attached.
BERs are calculated using bespoke software called DEAP (Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure), which calculates all the heat gained from solar through windows and roof- lights and from using appliances efficiently. It also measures the heat losses through the wall, floor and roof and then determines the amount of heat required to keep the house warm and the water hot and how efficient the heating system is. This means a BER does not consider energy consumed through domestic activities such as cooking, refrigeration, laundry and entertainment.
The calculation process also considers the number of people likely to occupy a building, with the score based on the average number of occupants in buildings of a similar capacity and size.
Research conducted by RedC research for An Post Green Hub has found that one in two people are unsure of their home’s BER rating, even though a BER certificate is a legal requirement if you are buying, selling or renting a home. However, you can check ifyour property has a valid BER certificate by logging onto the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s (SEAI) National BER Register. To search the register, you will need either an MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number) obtained from the top of your electricity bill or an existing BER number from the BER Certificate and Advisory Report.
If your home does not have a BER rating, you can use a BER rating calculator available from various organisations, including SEAI, An Post and SSE Airtricity. Using your address or Eircode will provide an estimation of your BER based on properties similar to yours in the area. In order to obtain an official BER rating and certificate for your home, you can appoint an independent assessor to inspect and survey your home. BER assessments are normally undertaken by SEAI-registered BER assessors, and you can find a list on the SEAI’s public database.
The inspection process generally takes from thirty minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your home. The assessor will examine several different elements, including the orientation of the property; the heating system and controls; the quality and depth of insulation throughout the home; ventilation, windows and doors; your home’s space and volume; lighting systems, radiators and other energy-saving measures.
In order to complete the BER calculation, your BER assessor will collect information which will include a number of calculations, measurements and photographic evidence of each of these aspects of your home and they will require free access to all areas of the property.
There is no set fee for a BER assessment, and the cost generally depends on the size of your home and the time an assessor takes to complete the inspection. BER assessments for an apartment typically cost around €150, while a standard house or duplex can cost between €200 and €300. It is wise to shop around and source at least a few written quotes before commissioning a BER assessment. You should also check that the assessor is insured and registered and that the price quoted includes the SEAI registration charge and VAT.
Once your assessment is complete, you will receive a copy of your BER certificate and Advisory Report. The BER certificate indicates your property’s rating, while the Advisory Report will provide some unique information and recommendations on how your property’s rating can be improved.
Your BER Advisory Report will be based on your home. It will help you understand the consumption levels of your home’s appliances and features that lead to energy waste, enabling you to utilise such information to improve the necessary aspects and reduce your energy wastage.
Obtaining a BER helps you to save money as you adopt energy-efficient properties. A higher BER requires that your home is well insulated and ventilated, uses renewable energy sources, and uses appliances that save energy. Hence, having a high rating will save you money because energy bills are reduced significantly. A high BER rating will also make your home more comfortable. The use of smart home technology - such as programmable thermostats, weather sensors and energy- saving light bulbs, makes your home more comfortable. Using heat pumps in conjunction with heat recovery systems regulates your home’s humidity properly to ensure that the home is comfortable and efficient.
BER certificates are usually valid for up to 10 years, given that there are no material changes to a home that could lead to significant changes in energy performance. A provisional BER certificate, which is usually derived from a plan of the unbuilt home, has a maximum validity of two years. When someone rents a specific home, energy bills can be estimated based on the home’s BER rating. When in the market for buying a house, potential buyers can also project energy bills based on the home’s BER rating. If the BER rating is poor, a buyer might decline to rent or buy it, or offer a lower price due to the levels of upgrade work required. Your home’s value improves when the rating is high, and you can more easily rent or sell it.