BER Building Energy Ratings Explained
What is a BER?
A Building Energy Rating (BER) Certificate is an indication of the energy performance of a building. Each certificate is accompanied by an Advisory Report which identifies how you could potentially improve the energy performance of your building. Your buildings BER is the calculated energy use for space and hot water heating, ventilation and lighting based on standard occupancy. A BER is similar to the energy label for a household electrical appliance like your fridge. The label has a scale of A-G, A-rated homes are the most energy efficient and will tend to have the lowest energy bills, while G rated homes are the least efficient.
Since 1 st January 2009, a BER certificate has been compulsory for all homes being sold or rented. If you are buying or renting a new house or apartment now, you are entitled to a BER – so ask the seller/landlord or their agent for it. Along with the BER certificate, you will also receive an Advisory Report which will help you to identify how you might improve the energy performance of your home.
How is a BER Calculated?
A BER is based on the characteristics of major components of the dwelling (wall, roof and floor dimensions, window and door sizes and orientations) as well as the construction type and levels of insulation, ventilation and air tightness features, the systems for heat supply (including renewable energy), distribution and control, and the type of lighting. It covers annual energy use for space heating, water heating, ventilation, lighting and associated pumps and fans, calculated on the basis of a notional standard family with a standard pattern of occupancy.
The energy performance is expressed as:
(a)primary energy use per unit floor area per year (kWh/m2/yr) represented on an A to G scale (see BER certificate); and
(b) associated Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions in kgCO2/m2/yr A BER is only an indication of the energy performance of a house. Actual energy usage will depend on how the occupants operate the house. In that way it is similar to the concept of a fuel economy (miles per gallon or litres per 100 km) rating for a car. A BER does not cover electricity used for purposes other than heating, lighting, pumps and fans, i.e. does not include for cooking, refrigeration, laundry etc.
What are the Benefits of a BER?
A BER makes the energy performance of a home visible to prospective buyers and tenants and enables them to take energy performance into consideration in their next house purchase or rental decision.
Who needs a BER?
A BER is required under the following circumstances:
- The building owner must obtain a BER before a new building is occupied for the first time regardless of whether it is offered for sale or rent.
- When a new or existing building is offered for sale or rent the seller / renter must provide a BER to prospective buyers or tenants. BER details must be included in advertisements when a building is offered for sale or rent.
There are exemptions for certain categories of buildings, e.g. protected structures and certain temporary building (Ref. S.I. No. 666 of 2006). There are fines of up to €5,000 for non-compliance with the regulations. BER assessments performed on new builds also help determine compliance to Part L of the Building Regulations. There are exemptions for certain categories of buildings (Ref. S.I. No.243 of 2012).
How much is a BER or DEC?
There is no set fee and the advice is to shop around for the best value for money. Make sure that you confirm all the relevant fees in writing prior to commissioning a BER or DEC assessment. BER / DEC assessors are charged a levy to submit a BER / DEC assessment to SEAI for publication on the national BER / DEC register.
The National Consumer Agency has carried out a mystery shop survey of BER assessors across Ireland. The survey examined the cost of getting a BER certificate from a number of registered assessors for a three bedroom semi-detached house and a two bedroom apartment.
How can I improve my properties BER?
The advisory report which accompanies the BER certificate contain recommendations on how to improve the energy performance of the dwelling. This may encourage the carrying out of energy performance improvement works either:
(i) before the sale or letting of the dwelling, in order to improve the BER/ marketability; or
(ii) after the sale by the purchaser of the dwelling, in order to reduce home heating bills and/or improve home comfort.
Building energy performance options might include measures such as:
-Insulating the hot water cylinder and pipework
-Increasing the insulation in the walls/attic/floor
-Installing advanced energy efficient glazing
-Measures to achieve controlled healthy ventilation
-Replacing an old or inefficient boiler with a more efficient boiler
-Installing modern heating controls
-Installing certain types of renewable energy heating systems.
The advisory report is particularly useful to those who have just purchased an existing dwelling and plan to improve or remodel in their early stages of occupation.
Who Carries out the BER Assessment?
BER assessments are carried out by registered BER assessors who have been trained under the National Framework of Qualifications and have registered with Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). All registered assessors must adhere to the BER Assessors Code of Conduct. A list of registered BER assessors is available online at www.sei.ie.
How Long is a BER Valid for?
A BER is valid for up to 10 years provided that there is no material change to the dwelling that could affect its energy performance. The maximum term of validity of a Provisional BER is 2 years.
What is a Provisional BER?
New homes offered for sale off plans also require a BER. In these cases, a Provisional BER will be issued based upon the design drawings and building specifications. When the home is completed, a BER based on an assessment of the final drawings and building specifications, which represent the house as constructed, is required. This BER must be supplied by the builder/developer on completion of any such homes sold off plans.
Who is Responsible for the BER Scheme?
The BER Scheme was established under the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 666 of 2006). Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) has been designated as the Issuing Authority with responsibility for the registration of BER assessors, logging of BER assessments and ongoing management of the BER Scheme. SEI has put in place a comprehensive quality assurance system to audit BER assessors and BER assessments and to protect the integrity of the BER Scheme.
Sources: Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland