Gas & Electricity

What is a BER?

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Image Simon Moynihan
Staff Writer

BER (building energy rating) is a valuation that measures the energy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings in Ireland. The BER of a building is represented by a scale of A to G, where A1 is the most energy efficient rating and G is the least. A difference of just a few grades on a BER can have a huge impact on a home's heating bill.

If you’ve been searching for a new home you may have noticed the colourful BER indicator displayed alongside property descriptions and wondered what it meant. This is the Building Energy Rating and it measures the energy efficiency of the property.

The BER provides a simple, colour coded rating from A to G where an A rating represents the most energy efficient properties and G the least. Higher ratings are coloured green, medium ratings yellow and low ratings red. 

Why is my home's BER important?

If you are selling or renting a property, you are legally obliged to provide a valid BER to prospective buyers and tenants. This also applies to property advertisements which must display the property's BER. Equally, if you are buying or renting a property, the seller or landlord is required to provide you with a valid rating.

The higher the home's rating the less money it will cost to heat.

What is a valid rating and how do I get one?

A BER is valid for 10 years as long as no significant structural changes are made to the property that might affect the rating. A provisional BER can be made on the basis of a property's plans but this is only valid for 2 years.

The BER assessment must be carried out by a certified assessor. There’s no fixed cost for an assessment, so be sure to get a number of different quotes before you hire a BER assessor.

Does my BER affect by bills?

Yes! A difference of just a few grades in your BER can have a substantial impact on your home heating bill, so it is important to know how energy efficient your home is.

Most houses built before 1994 will have a D1 rating or lower, unless they have been upgraded. However, upgrading can save you thousands of euro in heating bills over 10 years.

How can I improve my BER?

A BER is an indication of a home’s energy efficiency in much the same way that a car’s stated fuel economy indicates that car’s fuel consumption. The BER takes into account energy used for heat, light, pumps and fans. It does not include energy used for items such as washing machines, dishwashers, cookers and fridges.

Most houses built after 2006 should have a C1 or higher rating in line with building standards.

Houses built before 2006 can apply for the SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme. The SEAI Better Energy Homes scheme provides homeowners with grants to improve the energy efficiency of their home, which can be used to invest in energy efficiency improvements including:

  • Wall insulation
  • Installation of high efficiency boilers
  • Upgraded heating controls
  • Installation of solar panels

There are a number of additional ways you can improve your BER including insulating water pipes, installing energy efficient windows and fitting efficient thermostats.

Whether you are selling your house or planning to stay put, taking steps to improve your BER makes sense. It could potentially save you thousands on your heating bill and if your house is on the market, a higher rating can be a critical selling point for savvy buyers.

More information on the Building Energy Rating can be found from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.