What is a BER?
Simon Moynihan
Staff Writer

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, and vice versa.

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 my 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 and is also referred to as retrofitting.

How can I improve my BER?

A BER is an indication of a home’s energy efficiency. It 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, although most home appliances now also come with their own separate energy rating.

If a home has a particularly low energy rating, C1 or worse for example, homeowners can choose to retrofit their property. Oftentimes simple retrofitting measures, also called a shallow retrofit, such as improving existing insulation can make the world of difference in the short term, especially for older homes and those with poor BERs.

More extensive measures, called a deep retrofit, can also be taken such as installing solar panels and heat controls. And the good news is there are grants available for all of the above.

There are a number of finance options available for those interested in retrofitting their homes.

Houses built before 2006 can apply for a home energy grant from the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) and can be used to invest in energy efficiency improvements including:

  • Internal/external wall insulation
  • Heat pump system
  • Heat controls
  • Solar water heating
  • Solar electricity

There are a number of additional ways you can improve your BER including insulating water pipes, installing energy-efficient windows and fitting efficient thermostats, all of which you can apply for a grant from the SEAI.

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 on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland website.

Save on your energy bills

Improving your BER can help lower your energy bills, but it can also involve a substantial amount of investment. 

If you’re looking for a quicker way to save money on your household energy bills, consider switching energy supplier.

It’s quick and easy to compare gas and electricity suppliers on bonkers.ie. You can find the cheapest energy deals on the market from all of Ireland’s suppliers in just a few clicks and save hundreds annually.

You can also easily reduce both your energy consumption and your carbon footprint with our list of 15 ways to use less electricity and save money.

Here to help

Do you have any questions about Building Energy Rating? We’d be happy to help. You can contact us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.