Ask the Expert: Explaining a BER certificate

20th July 2017

For anyone considering selling a house, one of the very first things that you will have to do is to get a BER (Building Energy Rating) Certificate before you can even think about selling. It’s not just second-hand homes either – all first-time homes and even rental properties must come with a completed BER.

At its basic level, the BER does what it says on the tin. It’s a measure of how efficient your building is when it comes to energy performance. The best rating is an A and it goes all the way down to a G. An A-rated property is deemed to be extremely efficient when it comes to energy and will have far lower energy bills than a G-rated property. It’s much like the labels you might see on your fridge or washing machine at home if you’ve bought them in the last five years.

According to Electric Ireland, the difference between a high and low BER can be pretty startling. “The average 3-bed semi-detached house built before 2004 has a BER of E1, which would result in an annual fuel cost of €2,450, based on typical occupancy and average energy usage. But the same house, with a BER of C, would cost just €1,300 per year, a difference of over €1,000!”

Multiply that by a lifetime of electricity usage and you’re looking at big savings.

A BER certificate must be carried out by an accredited BER assessor who is registered with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Luckily, here on the Lisney blog, we’ve got one of Ireland’s very best BER assessors, Max Markovski of MaxEnergySolutions, to talk through the rating.

Getting the basics right

Max says that a BER assessment is not only a guide as to how energy efficient a property is, but also an indicator as to how efficient it might be if certain improvements were made. These recommendations are made as part of the advisory report which comes along with the BER grade.

“When a BER assessor goes in to look at a property, we have to measure what is there at the present moment in time. We measure 80 separate pieces of data. These include the size of the house, the insulation used, the materials used, the window glazing and a load of other measurements. It’s not just coming to your house and taking a look at it… there is a lot of science behind what we do. The BER grade is based on what is there in your house on the day of the assessment.

“However in the advisory report, we can put in some tips for the homeowner to improve that grade. That could include putting a lagging jacket on the boiler or even replacing the boiler if it’s an old and inefficient model,” explains Markovski.

In general, before getting your BER assessment carried out Max recommends insulating the hot water cylinder, increasing the attic insulation, upgrading the glazing on your windows and having modern thermostats in place so that you can control the temperature in the rooms you actually use and turn it down in the rooms you don’t use on a frequent basis.

While some of these measures can be quite costly, insulating the hot water cylinder and even increasing the attic insulation are relatively inexpensive measures that can make quite a difference.

Noted ecologist Duncan Stewart says that homeowners should, “concentrate on your roof insulation first,” he told the Irish Independent. “This is the low lying fruit – the easy one.  You’ll have payback in 2-4 years and it’s a no-brainer.”

What buyers are looking for

“Buyers are looking at the BER now. The scheme has been in since January 2013 so people are getting used to looking at them. Old houses might have a G rating which means that you’ll need to do a lot of work to get it up to a C or D rating which are the most common ratings in Irish homes,” Max explains.

“If a buyer is looking at a selection of properties that are quite similar, the energy savings do come into it. If you have a house that is rated G versus a property that has been modernised and has a C rating, then the energy bills would be around double in the G-rated house versus the C-rated house.

“So let’s say this means an energy bill of €2,400 per year as compared with €1,200 per year. Let’s say the family plans on spending 20 years at least in their new home. That’s a saving of €24,000 over the course of their time there. That’s a lot of money for anybody – particularly a young family.”

Markovski’s views are backed up by the statistics. Earlier this year, the Irish Independent said that a good BER score could add “as much as €30,000 to the cost of a house valued at €300,000.”

While some of the measures   Max initially recommends are quite affordable and should cost less than €200, for the more expensive upgrades, there is a grant scheme in operation.

“The SEAI has a range of grants available and they cover things like roof insulation and wall insulation as well as solar panels and heat extraction systems. They cover up to 30 percent of the costs and 350,000 Irish people have already used these grants to upgrade their homes.

“Even the most expensive of these upgrades pays for itself in about eight or nine years so if you are looking at your home as an investment, these upgrades make a lot of sense,” says Markovski.

Thinking about selling your house?

If you are thinking about a BER or anything else you’d need to do before you sell your house, then get in touch with the property experts in Lisney today.

We have decades of experience helping people with selling their houses… and finding the next one too. So, if you have any queries, get in touch today.

By lisney
20th July 2017