What is a building energy rating (BER)?

Can my home connect to gas?

A Building Energy Rating (BER) is a valuation that measures the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings in Ireland. The majority of homes in Ireland fall within a C category.

The better the Building Energy Rating, the lower your energy bills, the less carbon (CO2) emitted and the greater potential value of the property. A difference of just a few grades on a BER can have an impact on a home's heating bill and the amount of carbon (CO2) emitted.

If buying or selling a home or trying to reduce costs and improve your sustainability, the BER is a good indicator of how much improvement is needed. A BER certificate is compulsory for all homes available for rent or sale. Find out more about when BER certificates are needed or check the SEAI National BER Register for an existing certificate.

How is a Building Energy Rating calculated?

A BER is calculated by a Building Energy Rating assessor following a review of your home. The SEAI National Register of BER Assessors can be accessed here.

The assessor will examine the insulation level and type in each area of your home. They will check the age and condition of your boiler and look at other factors like the size, type and condition of your windows and doors.

The assessor will also check the roof and floor dimensions and examine the ventilation and air flow of your home to determine the final grade. Any energy efficiency improvements or technology like solar panels, battery storage units or storage heaters will also be taken into account.

Knowing where your home needs to be improved is a huge start in improving your BER and making it more energy efficient.

What can impact the Building Energy Rating?

Approximately 35% of heat lost from the average home escapes through the outer walls with up to 30% leaving through the roof. It is often recommended to examine the suitability of your attic and wall insulation and checking for gaps or cracks is the first step in reducing that heat loss for your home.

Other areas of the house that can lead to potential heat loss are doors and windows. Unsealed outer doors, any poorly fitted frames or single-paned windows could result in a loss of up to 25% of your home’s heat.

Another negative impact of poorly performing windows or doors (and the draughts that can comes with them) will be the reduction in effectiveness of any investment you may make in improved attic and wall insulation. 

Warmer homes grant scheme

The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) offer qualifying homeowners a free home energy upgrade service under the Warmer Homes Scheme. The scheme has been designed to prioritise homes that were built and occupied before 1993 and have a lower pre-works BER of E, F or G.

A SEAI surveyor will recommend upgrades that will make your home warmer and more affordable to run. These will be based on factors such as its age, size, existing heating system and condition. Grants offered under the scheme could include upgrades to a new heating system, windows, wall and roof insulation and secondary work such as lagging jackets, draught proofing and energy efficient lighting. Find out if you qualify and how to apply on the SEAI website.

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How to improve the Building Energy Rating of my home?

You can take certain measures to improve your BER and in turn reduce your annual energy bill and lower the carbon emissions of your home. Implementing a number of changes can have a significant improvement on the energy performance and result in a warmer, cosier home with an improved BER rating. Research has shown that a warmer home also benefits overall health and wellbeing. Since your home will be much more energy efficient, your heating bills should also be lower.

It is recommended that you have a BER Assessor complete an assessment of your home to identify what areas should be prioritised. Check if you qualify for a free home energy upgrade.

Older oil-fired boilers are inefficient and expensive to operate because of the amount of fuel used to maintain adequate comfort levels and hot water in the home. Replacing a conventional heating system with a modern gas boiler can boost the comfort levels in your home while lowering the running costs, energy usage and harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

Replacing an oil boiler and installing a new, 90% efficient gas boiler and time and temperature controls are great ways to use less energy, support the environment and further save on running costs.

Adding extra insulation to your attic is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce heat loss in your home and improve your property’s BER. The water tank and pipework will alo likely need to be insulated, and a walkway and ventilation provided. With new insulation, it is also very important to ensure proper ventilation. This will lower the risk of condensation build-up in the attic space that can reduce the effectiveness of your insulation and cause costly to the roof structure of a home.

Hot water cylinders without insulation or poorly insulated should be fitted with a hot water cylinder jacket. It is recommended that any future replacement hot water cylinders should be factory insulated.

If you’ve got well insulated walls and attic, then the heat lost through poorly performing windows and doors will be even greater. Draught-proofing, fitted to doors, loft or attic hatches and windows improves airtightness and thermal comfort, reduces heat loss, improves noise insulation and reduces dust ingress.

Correct lighting levels are essential for visual comfort, safety and for aesthetic effects. Fit efficient electric lighting and maximise the use of daylight. Using 100% LED, low energy lightbulbs is a quick, simple and affordable way to reduce your electricity use and energy bills.

Solar PV panels on your roof is a sustainable way to generate your own electricity. Even with our Irish weather, solar energy can contribute to your energy requirements. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can generate renewable electricity from the sun, which can be used to power all electrical devices in your home, such as your television, fridge, kettle, and shower.

Switching from oil to natural gas

While many Irish homes have already made the switch from oil to natural gas, there are over 200,000 homes in Ireland within 15 metres of the national gas network that are not connected to natural gas.

Switching from oil to natural gas will allow you to save on your energy bills, enjoy more convenient and flexible heating, and make your home more environmentally friendly at the same time. Learn more about the switching process and how you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.

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A cleaner energy future with Gas Networks Ireland

Ireland’s gas network is a vital national asset that generates 30% of primary energy, 40% of our heating and almost 50% of our electricity. Today, more than 680,000 Irish homes rely on the gas network to provide safe, reliable and flexible energy to meet their heating, cooking and power needs. By gradually replacing natural gas with renewable, carbon neutral and ultimately zero carbon gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, these same homes and more will be powered by increasingly cleaner energy.

Biomethane, which began flowing on the network in 2019, is the first step to a cleaner energy future. Produced from agricultural and food waste, this renewable gas is structurally identical to natural gas and can be used in exactly the same way through the existing infrastructure, boilers and appliances, meaning homeowners will transition to this sustainable energy source and play their part in progressing Ireland towards a cleaner energy future, without changing a thing.

Read the BER case study