A Building Energy Rating (BER) indicates the energy performance of a home and helps you gain an insight into the property’s energy performance. It takes into account space heating, water heating, lighting, and ventilation.
Similar to the energy rating you see on household appliances, a BER indicates how energy efficient your home is.
The BER scale ranges from A-G, with A-rated properties being the most energy efficient, and in turn, have lower energy bills.
In this guide, we outline why you might need a BER certificate, how you can check to see if your home already has one, and what’s involved in getting a BER assessment.
Why should I have a BER certificate?
Since January 2007, all new buildings constructed must have a valid BER certificate, which indicates their energy efficiency. However, if you have a home built before this, a BER certificate is not mandatory.
Having said that, there are several reasons why you should consider getting one:
1. Understand your energy usage more: Having a BER certificate makes it easier to evaluate the energy efficiency of your home.
A BER can help you save money in the long run, as you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to make your home more energy efficient, reducing your energy bills.
2. It’s required to sell or rent a house: A BER is legally required when a property is sold or rented, or when a new house is built for sale.
The higher the BER, the higher the value of your home. So, if you are selling your house, your BER rating will be taken into consideration by prospective buyers. If your BER is low, this may put buyers off, due to work required to carry out updates.
3. It’s required for retrofitting: If you’re interested in retrofitting your home, you’ll need an up-to-date BER certificate if you’re getting a Government grant to offset the financial burden.
When you get a BER assessment, an advisory report is also included, which details the measures you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency, and how the measures will reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions.
This advisory report should also include an estimate of how much it would cost to retrofit your home so that you can plan your home energy upgrades.
How to know if your home has a valid BER
You can easily discover whether your home already has a valid BER through the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI).
On the SEAI National BER Register website you can:
- Check and see if your property has a valid BER
- Download the property’s BER certificate and advisory report
- Review further details of the BER of a property being advertised for sale
- Check the BER certificate expiry date
To conduct a search on the register, you’ll either need:
- The MPRN from an electricity bill for the property
- The BER number from the BER certificate and advisory report
How long is a BER certificate valid for?
BER certificates are valid for up to 10 years after an assessment was carried out.
However, if you make changes to a property that will impact the home's energy performance, a new BER will be required. For example, if you get a new heating system installed.
If a BER cert has expired, you should have a new assessment carried out.
Who carries out a BER assessment?
BER assessments are carried out by independent registered assessors. They will inspect your home, calculate the BER, and provide you with a certificate upon completion.
You can find a registered BER assessor through the SEAI’s register. When you conduct a search, you’ll be presented with a list of assessors, including their name, address, and contact details.
If you’re looking for a specific assessor, you can enter their name or the company name.
Assessors will be specially trained, with relevant qualifications. You should check their ID prior to them completing the assessment.
How long does a BER assessment take?
How long the evaluation takes will depend on the size of the property.
For example, it usually takes an hour to complete an assessment on an average sized 3-bed semi-detached house.
How is a BER calculated?
When calculating the BER, the Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) is used, which is Ireland’s official method for calculating a property’s BER.
The DEAP software automatically calculates the energy losses for the home, which is portrayed as a Building Energy Rating.
This software takes into consideration Irish climate, construction types, heating systems, and occupancy patterns.
What factors are taken into account?
A BER assessment is based on the building, its fabric, and installed systems.
The assessment only takes into consideration electricity used for heating, fans, pumps, and lighting. As such, energy consumed through domestic activities like cooking, laundry, or entertainment is not taken into account.
During the assessment, a BER assessor will survey each room in the house, including the attic and garage. To help with data input, they may take pictures of certain elements of your home.
For example, they will collect information on:
- The construction type of the building
- Insulation levels within walls, floors, and the roof
- Hot water systems and water cylinders
- Floor dimensions, room height, window and door sizes
- The space heating system and controls
- Ventilation systems
- Showers and baths
- Any renewable energy systems in place, e.g. solar panels
If you’ve had any retrofits carried out, the assessor will require certain information and documents on these. We advise you to discuss this with the assessor before the evaluation so that you have everything ready.
How to prepare for a BER assessment
Before you get a BER assessment carried out on your home, you’ll need to prepare accordingly.
Gather necessary documents
There are certain documents you should have at hand, ready for the assessor:
- Your MPRN.
- Details of previous BER assessments, if applicable.
- Proof of the year the property was built, along with drawings, plans, or specifications of the house.
- Legal documents indicating the age of any extensions that have been added to the house.
- Details and documentation of any upgrades carried out to the property. E.g. certificates, receipts, invoices, and specification documents from architects, engineers, or contractors. These must include the house address, details of the work carried out, and the products used.
- Information on the make and model of your boiler and/or other heat sources. This information can be found on the side of your boiler.
- Certification information for windows and doors, e.g. glazing, solar transmittance values, etc.
- The results of any air tightness tests completed.
Information on all of the above will be needed at some point, and it will save time if you’ve compiled it beforehand.
If you cannot provide relevant documents, the BER assessor will use ‘default values’. These are estimates of the performance of particular aspects of your home. However, this may result in your home receiving a lower BER rating.
How much does a BER assessment cost?
There is no set fee for a BER assessment, so we’d recommend shopping around for the best rate.
Typically, a one-bedroom apartment will cost €100-150 to assess, while a large house, duplex, or penthouse can cost between €200 and €300, including VAT.
These are just estimates and we’d advise you to consult with a BER assessor to get accurate cost estimates.
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Learn how to lower your carbon footprint
If you want to take steps to offset your carbon footprint, we have a range of articles to help:
- In this guide, you can discover 15 ways to use less electricity and save money.
- Heating your home can prove costly. In this blog, we outline 10 ways to heat your home for less.
- Here are 12 tips to help you use less water and save you money.
- Are you considering retrofitting? Learn about your finance options here.