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 In Energy Tips, Preparation, Solar Advice

If you’ve been looking into buying or building an energy-efficient home – or you’re keen to improve the home you already have – you’ve probably come across the term “BER rating” before. 

But what exactly does BER mean? And how does it impact homeowners across Ireland?

In this post, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions about BER certificates and the ratings attached to Irish properties. We’ll show you where to find a BER, and explain the process involved in getting one if you don’t know it yet. 

We’ll outline the reasons why you might want to improve your BER – and 5 ways in which you can go about it through a few home improvements.

What Is A BER Rating?

Let’s start at the beginning. BER stands for Building Energy Rating – and it comes along with a certificate that indicates your home’s energy performance. BER certs consider all aspects of a property’s energy efficiency – including dimensions of the floor and roof, the quality of your windows and doors, in addition to insulation and heating systems.

Depending on how clean or energy-efficient your home is, it will be rated on a scale from A–G.

The BER rating scale may be small: but the difference between those 7 letters can have a major impact on what you can expect to spend on your bills, and on your home’s carbon footprint, too. 

  • A-rated homes are the most energy efficient homes, producing less carbon dioxide (CO²) when the heating is turned on. Since less fuel is needed to keep the house warm, typically, this end of the scale = lower energy bills.
  • G-rated properties are the least energy efficient – they often need much more energy to heat up the home, meaning higher energy bills.

BER Grades: A Quick Look

BER Grade (by Group)Example of Property
ANew, urban home, typically with solar panels
BModern property (10–20 years), retrofitted for improved efficiency
C15–20 year old rural home with double glazing, attic insulation and oil-fired heating – or a typical apartment in a 10–15 year old complex
DOlder homes (20–40 years) with double glazing and gas boiler, perhaps some insulation
ENo efficiency improvements or double glazing in a 30–40 year old home
F & GOlder properties (40 years+) with single-glazed windows and no insulation

Snapshot of a BER Certificate, A Guide to Building Energy Ratings, SEAI

BER certificates indicate your home’s energy performance.

How Long Does It Last?

Your official BER rating will last you for 10 years (given that you haven’t made any structural modifications or heating system alterations that could significantly change your home’s energy performance). 

New homes, when sold off-plan, can access what’s called a provisional BER (based on the home’s design). This certificate is valid for two years – but when the home is complete, you must replace your provisional BER with a final BER.

Reasons To Improve BER Rating

What does a better BER mean for you, the homeowner? Well, in addition to your home being kinder to the environment with lower carbon dioxide emissions, the better it scores on the scale, the lower your energy bills tend to be. 

Psst… As an example, the SEAI estimates the annual fuel costs for a 3-bedroom semi-detatched home with a G rating to be around €3,600. Whereas homes with an A rating could spend almost ten times less than that: €360. So we’re talking major savings, here!

Meanwhile, smart home technology like programmable thermostats, weather sensors and energy-saving light bulbs can make your home more comfortable and the running of it more simple.

Should you choose to sell or rent your property in the future, having a positive BER certificate will increase the value of your home; making it more attractive to potential buyers with less costs of upgrading involved.

Finally, you can access financial rewards for improving your home’s rating, which we’ll cover in the next section.

 

Do I Really Need a BER Cert?

Well, yes – because it’s the law, for starters! Irish homeowners are required to have a BER certificate if they are either renting or selling a home. This law has been in place since January 2013 and states that all homes, whether for sale or for rent, must include their BER rating when advertised.

If that isn’t enough to convince you, there may be a financial reward to be gained, too. In some cases, you can access a one-time BER grant of 50 through the SEAI towards the cost of your assessment. Then, you may be able to claim future payments if you make improvements to your home based on your assessment. 

Finally, it’s worth knowing your rating to understand the energy efficiency of your home and how you can gain greater energy independence, with more control over your costs. You’ll be able to cut down on those bills, too – as you adopt certain energy-efficient properties through better insulation, ventilation, renewable energy sources and energy-saving appliances.

Where To Find It

If you don’t know your home’s rating, you can check BERs on the SEAI National BER register below. If your property is already registered, that’s where you can download your BER cert – but you’ll need either your MPRN or BER number in order to do this. 

You can find your MPRN number (which stands for Meter Point Reference Number), on the top of your electricity bill. And your BER number will be printed on your BER Certificate and Advisory Report. 

If you’re interested in a different property for sale or rent, you can review its BER details on the register, too.

Check BER rating

How To Get A BER Rating

If your property doesn’t have an official BER rating, you can get an assessment carried out by SEAI registered BER assessors (find a list of independent assessors in your area here). 

Once you get in contact with them and arrange a call-out, a team will conduct a survey of your home – this typically takes about an hour for a three-bed, semi-detached house.

During the survey, the assessors will apply a bespoke software called DEAP (Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure) to determine how much energy your home requires for utilities such as:

  • Hot water
  • Ventilation
  • Central heating
  • Lighting

Note, your BER doesn’t include energy consumed through your day-to-day domestic activities like cooking, refrigeration or laundry – that use of household appliances is measured in kilowatt hours, or kWh, and can be found on your electricity bill.

In order to inspect elements like heating and ventilation, the assessors will need access to the following areas of your home (if you have them):

  • Attic
  • Hot press
  • Ventilation systems
  • All windows and doors
  • Lighting systems
  • Meter cupboards
  • Heating systems and controls

Psst…To help the assessors during the inspection and to speed things along, they have a great Homeowners Checklist to help you prepare. We’d recommend completing this as soon as you arrange a time for them to visit. 

After the survey, the assessors will determine your home’s energy performance, which can be expressed in two ways:

  1. The primary energy use per unit floor area, per year (kWh/m2/yr) represented on an A to G scale.
  2. The associated CO² emissions in kgCO2/m2/yr. 

They’ll give you a BER Certificate and an Advisory Report based on the above information: the BER Cert will show your property’s rating, while the Advisory report will include information and recommendations on how you can boost this rating through certain home improvements which are more energy efficient, and which you can submit to the SEAI for financial incentives.

An advisory report gives you a personalised energy improvement plan. See “Energy Performance Potential” visual from p.5 of this guide

How Much Does A Certificate Cost?

There isn’t a set price for BER assessments. So we’d recommend getting a quote from at least three different assessors: to avoid being overcharged for the surveying process and to help you get the best value.

Caldor Solar have researched the market thoroughly to give you an idea of what to expect – and we’ve found that prices tend to start from around 150–180 for a one-bed flat or house. For family-sized homes, that figure is around 200–300. 

Note: These costs will vary depending on factors such as:

  • Location
  • Accessibility
  • Number of occupants and rooms
  • Home extensions

Some assessors may charge extra for processing grant paperwork, too. At Caldor Solar, we like to provide homeowners with a reasonable and competitive quote – minus the paperwork fees! – based on their homes’ specific circumstances and design.

5 Ways of Improving BER Rating 

Want to climb higher from a G rating…but not sure where to start? Well, Irish homeowners typically need to address a few common factors. Here are some examples that your Advisory Report may highlight.

1. Insulate Your Home

Improving your home’s insulation is a sure-fire way to make it more energy-efficient, especially in older homes. We’d recommend starting with your attic, as a significant portion of our home’s heat is lost through the roof. Think of insulating your attic like putting on a hat – you can save a lot of heat that way! 

If necessary, you can then move on to external wall insulation: you may need to make your windowsills deeper and to adjust your downpipes when doing so.

A more thorough procedure is known as dry lining: where you apply internal insulation or plasterboard throughout your home. As this can be a more invasive process, we’d recommend talking to professionals to determine the best insulation solution for your individual home and needs.

2. Try Cleaner Windows & Doors

We don’t mean getting rid of smudges; rather, we mean switching up your windows to more energy-efficient ones that can keep heat in. Triple glazing is your best option as it actually isn’t that much more expensive compared to double glazing – and your home will have better acoustics, heat flow and security as a result.

Psst…When choosing a window replacement company, make sure to check that they use thermal foam and airtightness tape to prevent drafts. A cheaper solution to upgrading your windows could be to install insulating window shades instead, which will provide protection against both cold draughts and heatwaves. 

Checked your windows are airtight? You can then move on to insulating your doors, and ensuring they have a properly insulated core. Composite doors are the most energy-efficient choice: with steel frames and a foam insulation core to prevent unnecessary heat loss.

3. Install a Heat Pump

Did you know that you can control the climate in your house? Well, you can – by using a device called a heat pump. Heat pumps distribute heat from the air to make your home much more comfortable. 

In summer, warm air from the home can be transferred outside while in winter, the pump will extract heat from the outside environment to make your house nice and cosy.

In doing so, you won’t have to continuously crank up or turn down the heat – saving you money on energy bills and reducing your carbon footprint in the long run.

4. Switch to LED Light Bulbs

As lighting can be a big factor in your home’s energy rating, one of the easiest ways to move up the scale is by replacing halogen lights with low-energy and smart LED bulbs. 

Your initial investment in these energy saving bulbs can significantly reduce your electricity consumption…and your bills, as a result.

5. Invest In Solar Energy

Across Ireland, homeowners are starting to invest in renewable energy as a way to gain more energy independence and and autonomy over their household bills. Solar is a clean – and free – source of energy, powered by the sun. What you pay for is the process of harnessing that energy in a way that can heat, light and power your home.

The great thing about solar (apart from lower bills!) is that is doesn’t produce any greenhouse gases. So by choosing to switch to solar, you’re automatically cutting down your CO² emissions…and improving your BER rating as a result.

You may be eligible to apply for an SEAI grant towards the cost of installation, plus future payments for any surplus energy generated for the grid. Find out more about solar panel prices  in this post.

Final Thoughts: Ready to Raise Your Rating?

Hopefully this post has helped you understand what a Building Energy Rating is, how you can check your property’s rating (if you don’t know it already), the reasons you might want to improve it and a few ways in which you can raise your score.

As with investments and improvements in general, you’ll get out what you put in. And while it might feel like extra effort to insulate your home or reconsider your fixtures, you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of these actions, long into the future.

If you need any help or advice boosting your rating, Caldor Solar are here to help. We design and supply installation of Solar PV panels across the country: for the simplest and smartest way to join Ireland’s solar energy generation. And we’re on a mission to help homeowners here reduce their electricity bills, raise their BER ratings, find cleaner and more cost-effective energy solutions and enjoy a more comfortable and sustainable home.

Our team can help you understand your home’s A–G rating so you can start to improve your energy efficiency, lower costs and reduce your carbon footprint – making sure you’re complying to legal requirements whether you’re looking to sell, rent or improve your home.

To get a quote, or to chat about your household’s energy needs, give us a call on 01 253 3349 or drop us a message here

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Join the solar revolution today…

Caldor Solar are solar power pioneers in Ireland, specialising in both residential and commercial solar panels. Check out our testimonials and online reviews to learn more. Or chat with us on 01 253 3349 for a personalised quote for your home. 

 

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