Tips for Improving Your Home's Building Energy Rating
Improve Your Home's BER Rating
An energy efficient home can save you money on your utility bills, and it’s also better for the environment. A property that has good insulation and double-glazed windows requires less energy to heat. This is because your heating system doesn’t need to work as hard to replace the heat that is naturally lost from your home. But how do you know if your home is efficient or not? The answer lies in the Building Energy Rating (BER).
What is a BER?
The BER of your home indicates how energy efficient it is and rates your home on a scale of A to G. The assessment looks at the building’s current insulation, ventilation and heating supply to provide a score. It comes as a document that provides the energy rating of your home as well as which improvements can be made to increase your score and make your home more efficient.
What BER is good?
A property with an A rating is super energy efficient, while a G-rated property may need substantial improvements to make it more economical. Within each letter category, there is a further number category. For instance, your home could receive an A1, A2 or A3 score and this is based on how many kilowatt hours per metre square (kwh/m2) your home uses per year. For your home to reach a score of A1, your home must use less than 25kwh/m2 per year, and this figure goes up in increments of 25. So the A2 score is 25kwh/m2 and above, A3 is 50kwh/m2, B1 is 75kwh/m2 and so on. The better the BER rating of your home, the lower the cost of your energy bills. There are no additional numbers after the ratings F and G.
The average sized home in Ireland (around 113m2) uses approximately 240kwh/m2 and this would result in a BER of D1.
Why is BER needed?
It’s the law for all new builds to have a BER, as well as any existing homes that are on the market for sale or rent. This means that you must have a BER if you wish to sell or rent out a property that you own. This is the case for both private and commercial buildings, no matter their age. If your home isn’t for sale or rent but is undergoing renovations that required planning permission, a BER will be required once the work is finished.
Nowadays, older buildings are still expected to take measures that can make them more efficient, unless they are considered a protected structure. Buildings exempt from a BER include places of worship, national monuments, non-residential industrial buildings that have a low heating capacity, protected structures and dwellings with a useful floor area of less than 50m2.
An energy rating is needed because it shows potential buyers or renters how efficient the space is, as this will have an impact on their bills each month.
BER And Selling Prices
If you have your home on sale, buyers will be paying paritcular attention to the Building Energy Rating. The ESRI published a report which highlighted how a one-point improvement in the 15-point scale from G to A1 resulted in a sticker price increase of 1%. The BER is very prominent in online proeprty ads such as Daft so take this into consideration if you are thinking of placing your property on the market.
How to improve BER
With all of the above in mind, it’s likely that you want your property to get a good BER of C or above. So what can you do to improve the rating?
Adding additional insulation is one of the best ways you can increase a BER. In fact, by insulating the attic, you may be able to increase the BER by a whole category.
While many people think that most heat is lost through the roof of your home, only around 25 per cent escapes through the roof. About 65 per cent is lost through doors, windows and walls and the remaining 15 per cent through the floor. Insulation can help to keep this heat in, and there are a few different types that you may want to consider. Cavity wall insulation can help to stop heat escaping through the walls and loft insulation prevents heat loss through the roof. If your home has lots of bare wooden floors, carpet can help to trap the heat in.
The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) has grants available to help cover some of the cost of insulating your home.
We’ve just mentioned that quite a lot of heat can escape around gaps in doors and windows (about 25 per cent) and one cheap and easy way of combating this issue is with draught excluders. Not only can these stop warm air from escaping, they can also prevent cold air from coming in. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be used around windows and door frames.
You may think that this is only an insignificant change, but swapping to energy-saving light bulbs could see a big improvement in your home’s BER. Current lightbulbs can be switched for compact fluorescent lamps, which use less energy and last much longer than a standard bulb. Not only will using them help to improve your home’s BER, but they will also cut the cost of your electricity bills and replacement bulbs.
It’s a good idea to have your boiler serviced at least once a year. Not only could this improve the efficiency of your heating system, but it may prevent you from claiming on your home insurance for repairs. The boiler may last longer too, so you’re less likely to have to fork out for a replacement sooner than intended.
Use renewable energy
Investing in a renewable energy system, such as solar panels or a wind turbine, is an excellent way of improving your property’s BER. Although the initial cost of such devices and installation fees may be large, the savings that can be made on your energy bills can recover this cost within a few years. As with insulation grants, theSEAI also has grants available to cover the cost of installing systems like the ones mentioned above in your home.
How do I get a copy of my BER certificate?
If you’ve organised the BER assessment yourself, the certificate should automatically be sent out to you when it’s ready. However, if you’ve lived in your house for a few years and would simply like to see if your home has an existing BER certificate, you can contact SEAI for a copy. You will need to tell them your Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN), and this can be found on the top of your most recent gas bill.
If you’re after a duplicate copy having lost your original, you can contact SEAI on 01 4003400 or contact the BER assessor directly.