By now everyone should be familiar with the energy ratings that we have on household appliances and now a similar kind of system is being brought in for the energy performance of houses. This is done to allow prospective buyers or tenants to factor energy performance and costs into their comparison of different properties and into their ultimate decision. It would give the buyers and tenants the option to view how good the property is insulated and how energy efficient it is before buying or renting.
Is there a legal obligation on property owners to have a BER carried out ?
Almost all buildings that are either newly constructed or otherwise placed on the market for sale or rental will have to have the certificate. The main exemption applies to listed buildings of outstanding architectural or historical importance. The certificate will most likely be similar to the energy label for domestic electrical appliances, which rates the energy performance of the appliance from A to G, and which expresses energy consumption (in kWh) under standard conditions of use .
How will energy rating of NEW HOMES be carried out?
New homes will most likely be rated off the plans during the design stage by a certified assessor.
How will energy rating of EXISTING HOMES be carried out?
Homeowners who are selling or renting an existing home will be required to have a building energy rating (BER) carried out by a trained and certified assessor and must provide the BER certificate to prospective buyers/tenants.
The BER will be based on a survey of the house by a registered assessor. The assessor will survey the house to record, for example, the size of the house, the construction, the insulation levels, the type of windows, details of the heating and hot water systems, etc. This information will then be used to calculate the energy performance of the house and to give it an energy rating. All assessors will be required to follow a standardised procedure using an approved survey and calculation methodology to arrive at a rating.
Along with the BER certificate, the assessor will also provide the homeowner with an Advisory Report setting out options for improving the energy performance of the property (i.e. stating how the energy performance of the house could be improved).
Has the method for Building Energy Rating been decided?
The national methodology for energy rating of homes was published in June 2006. The method, called the Dwellings Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP) is a hybrid of the draft European Standard (prEN13790) and the UK Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP). The DEAP method will be used to demonstrate compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations and also to produce a Building Energy Rating (BER). The national methodology for non-residential buildings has not yet been adopted. The European Standards body (CEN) is currently developing standards for the purposes of the EPBD. Draft standards will be available between April and June 2005 after which a decision will be taken regarding specific national methodologies.
How much will a BER cost?
The best indication of the likely cost of such a survey is to look to other European Countries where energy rating of homes has been introduced, for example Denmark and the Netherlands. The costs are generally in the range of €200 to €500 depending on the size, age, etc. of the house.
Early indications are that the cost in Ireland will be approx. €300 for an existing home and less than this for a new home.
For non-residential buildings, costs will vary according to whether new or existing, and according to building size and complexity, and so will be expected to range widely.
What happens if you get a poor rating?
There is no legal penalty for getting a bad label for an existing house. From the perspective of a seller or landlord, the effect of such a label can be expected to be a degree of market disadvantage in a competitive property market. From the perspective of a householder, it creates an awareness of the ongoing running costs, comfort level and environmental impact associated with energy use in the property.
Is there any advice provided by the assessor?
The energy certificate comes with an advisory report, which will inform homeowners of the steps they can take to improve the energy performance of their house. Such steps might include simple measures such as insulating the hot water tank, increasing the insulation in the walls/attic/floor, replacing an old or inefficient boiler with a more efficient boiler, heating controls, etc. The report is likely to include an indication of installation costs, associated savings on your annual energy bills, return on investment, and the revised energy rating that would arise if such measures were implemented
For this reason, the advisory report is a key document. It will be expected to provide the householder with a clear assessment of the various options for improving the efficiency of their home – in respect of the building fabric, ventilation control, boiler, heating and hot water system efficiency. It may be particularly useful to those who have just purchased an existing home which they plan to improve or remodel in their early stages of occupation.