The sunny days of summer aren’t the time that you want to be thinking about how energy efficient your home is, but it is best to get ahead of the game in order to be warm and cosy for those winter nights.

Making your home more energy efficient has become a bit easier with the recent release of the new BER Advisory Report. When we say new, we really mean updated.

The BER Advisory Report has been made available to any consumer that has had their home assessed since the start of the scheme in 2007.

However, in recent years, it has become quite dated and an overhaul was needed to make it more comprehensive and personalised.

Dara Stewart, programme manager with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) talks to Irish Country Living about the changes that have been made. She says: “When people undertake an energy assessment through a registered BER assessor, their home is rated from A to G – A being the most energy efficient. The accompanying report, up until now, gave general advice on how to improve the energy performance and the different measures that you can take.

“The new report, however, is less text heavy and easier for homeowners to read and understand. It’s been shortened to just four pages and it’s more visual. Most importantly though, it’s much more personalised. It identifies key areas of performance, the priority areas for your home and a package of upgrades to improve your home to a B2 rating or above.”

It also sets out how much these improvements are likely to cost you. Dara continues: “It is not a specific number. You do need to get an actual quote for the specific works needed on your house but the report does advise if it’s in the realm of under €5,000, from €5,000 to €15,000 or more expensive than that.”

Getting a BER assessment

While it is a legal requirement to undertake a BER assessment when you buy a house, it is the first step that homeowners should take when embarking on works on their home. Dara says: “Typically, a BER assessment from a registered assessor will cost somewhere in the region of €150 plus VAT for a three-bed semi. The price increases depending on the size and complexity of the house.”

This is then your roadmap to determine the works that need to be done on the house. Dara says that often people don’t know where to start but there is a three-step approach that is recommended.

The first is the fabric first approach, your insulation.

“This is your first port of call when upgrading the energy rating of your house,” says Dara. “Look at the level of insulation in the home to reduce the energy demand so focus on the insulation in your walls and in the roof, look at the performance of the windows and the doors. Your focus should be on getting it draft free and airtight.”

When this is completed, the next area of focus should be your heating system; both the heating system that warms the house and the hot water system. “Your BER report will indicate how your current heating system is performing, and what improvements – if any – are needed. Sometimes a heat pump or replacing a non-energy-efficient boiler with an efficient one can make a substantial difference to your heating bills.

“After that, the third stage of upgrade is to look towards renewable energy and this can further improve the energy rating of your home, either through solar power for your hot water or electricity.”

Keeping costs down

While some homeowners will look at getting all the works done in one go – especially if they are undertaking major works on their house such as an extension – Dara advises that this doesn’t have to be the approach for everyone. This is especially relevant as construction costs have inflated by up to 20% in recent years.

“It can be a staged approach, something you plan for financially over a couple of years. And of course, when planning your finances, be sure to look at the grants available for the works that you need to undertake. Some of the more relevant ones for you are highlighted on the BER assessment. In general, the grants cover about one third of the cost.”

We have detailed some of the most popular grants that consumers can avail of when doing upgrade works in their home in Fig 1. CL

Did you know?

  • There are approximately 1.3 million homes in Ireland that need to be upgraded to make them more energy efficient
  • Most homes in Ireland are rated as C or D
  • For more information, check out:

    SMEs can avail of a €2,000 voucher to cover energy audit

    It’s not just homeowners that need to do an energy assessment. The SEAI is encouraging Irish SMEs to take control of their energy use with the launch of a new support scheme. The scheme will provide SMEs with a €2,000 voucher to cover the cost of an energy audit.

    Energy saving opportunities that are identified through the audit could save businesses up to 30 percent on their energy bills and help to reduce their climate impact. The audit will also assess whether renewable energy technologies are a viable option for their business.

    For more information, click here.