BER statistics


It’s a common misconception that Passive houses require no energy or additional heating, I was guilty of it myself until not too long ago.

Passive houses must fulfil a range of criteria before they can be certified as passive but the main one is that the heating load should be less than 10 W/m² whilst maintaining an indoor temperature of 20°C. So on the coldest day of the year a 200m² house should require no more than 2000w of heat to keep the entire house at 20°C, a two bar electric heater would do the job.

But it is true to say that because of the way the BER is calculated many passive houses don’t get an A1 BER rating as one might expect.

As has been discussed here previously the BER system certainly has it’s flaws particularly as it is mostly a paper exercise but it is definitely better than what we had before i.e. nothing!


I found this software easy to use & gave me very useful insights into energy waste at home & insights into how the regulations can be (mis)interpeted by assesors.
Tis worth walking a mile in their shoes.


I’m a bit suspicious of high BER ratings. As others have pointed out, ratings are very inconsistent, and it seems to be easy to game the system, for example by buying a few energy-efficient bulbs. It is also a paper system for new houses, based on the plans, not on measurements of the completed house.

However, my main concern is that the insulation and air-tightness of the high BER house may not have been done properly. If the house has inadequate ventilation, there will be condensation problems, leading to mould which will make the occupants sick. If internal wall insulation is not done properly, condensation may form on the wall behind the insulation (that is the dew point will be where the insulation meets the wall), leading to mould between the insulation and the wall.

It is certainly possible to build or retrofit a house to be air-tight and well insulated without causing these sorts of problems. However, I have very little faith in Irish builders, and I suspect that in many cases the quality of the design and workmanship is low, and that most Irish builders have little experience knowledge or experience of how to build insulated, air-tight houses. I suspect that many of these houses with high BERs will have problems in the future.

For this reason, I would be reluctant to pay a big premium for a high BER.



And I suspect that we would be representative of many or even most buyers. Conversely, in spite of the potentially higher heating costs of a home with a low rating, I haven’t seen much empirical evidence to suggest that such homes suffer a deep pricing discount when they sell. SEAI would have us all think that the BER always is or should be a make-or-break consideration in the purchase of a home (just look at their advertising). The reality is, it’s not.

One factor to consider here is the size and price of the house, and the budget bracket of the buyer. I’m not talking about the size-related factors that will affect the BER. I’m referring to the relative importance of a low BER in relation to the overall purchase price. The BER could be extremely important to a first-time buyer with a total budget of €100k, as even the “low-cost” improvements would be a relatively high cost to that buyer. However, a low BER - while still a matter to be taken into consideration - is less important to a buyer operating further up the property ladder and therefore having a larger budget and a wider range of criteria other than cost-based ones. (On the pin, many people tend to obsess about cost-based criteria as though they are only things that matter in considering a house purchase; maybe this is because they are the most tangible factors or maybe it’s because most pinsters seem to be techies who find it difficult to relate to the qualitative aspects of life!)

I know that for me, the BER would be well down the list of things that matter in any home I’m interested in buying, as the relative cost of improving a BER to a level I’m happy to live with would be relatively minor in comparison to the total spend. Once I reach what I deem an adequate comfort level I would not invest further in energy efficiency measures unless they could deliver a proven return on my investment (savings outstripping cost) within a reasonable time period.


Given the variability, subjectivity, and, I suspect, the ability to occasionally improve your rating with a strategical placed couple of 50s, is there any sense in the current system of 15 gradations? Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it as “Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor” or something? Or even just A/B/C/D/E/F without those silly subcategories.


The National BER Research Tool is available to examine the quality of the housing stock in detail.

BER Research Tool - SEAI


Shouldn’t BER ratings on new builds have some sort of amortization of the energy that’s gone into the construction?
Otherwise, we’re privileging new build over existing, especially for older houses that are not well insulated.


Not if you want to use the BER as a measure of running cost rather than (theoretical) overall efficiency. Think of it as akin to a MPG rating.


I’d be careful to draw too close comparison. Behavioural use energy is at least as important as energy rating.
With a car, driving in a fuel efficient way has limited effects in comparison


Thanks for posting this, Coles2. It’s very interesting.


No problem!

Something that I haven’t had a chance to confirm yet, but apparently houses built between 2002-2006 have a lower average energy rating than houses built in the previous decade. Insane if true.


All properties for sale or rent from 9 January 2013 must advertise its BER. The owner/agent must also produce the BER certificate & accompanying advisory report at the request of the prospective buyer/tenant. … 049,en.pdf


And there folks, are the vested interests at work.
€150 + VAT a pop for every property on the market.

I’ve said it many times before, the BER scheme is a load rubbish.
What people want to know is how much the property costs to heat.
Ratings like A, B and C etc are meaningless when it comes to providing the information people want.
Show them an electricity and/or gas bill for the previous 12 months and people will have a good idea what kind of bills to expect.

I have asked a number of BER assessors can they provide me with a good approximation of heating bills based upon the rating and their answers were ‘no’.

The only time I can see the rating scheme making a smidgen of sense is with new buiilds, or property which has laid dorment for years and thus cannot provide a recent heating bill.
But even then it is only on a theoretical comparitive basis.


I thought it was already compulsory? Certainly was for sales.

Edit or was it previously just residential and now includes commercial?


needed for conveyancing. you won’t get pass that if you are trying to sell.


It wasn’t compulsory to advertise it. It will be now by the looks of it


Mmmm… makes you wonder… will your BER rating be used to assist in determining the value of your house :wink:

That grant to put in the attic insulation might come back to bite a few people on the ass!

One could suggest leaving the windows open for one BER assessment and using that for your property valuation re: property tax… and one with the windows closed when your looking to sell it :wink:


Excellent news. Good for tenants.


When I looked at a house for sale in Scotland about 5 years ago the owner offered me a copy of his heating bills including all forms of heat, main (oil) and supplementary (coal & logs).


Having The windows open would not make a difference to the assesment, however telling the assessor that all bulbs were 100 watt incancendecent and you had a coal fire every night would.