5 Ways to Improve Your Building Energy Rating (BER)
Improving your Building Energy Rating (BER) will keep your home at a more comfortable temperature throughout the year, reduce your electricity and heating bills, and may even increase your property’s value if you decide to put it up for sale or rent it. The good news is that you don’t always need to carry out major renovations to have a more energy-efficient home, as small actions on your part can also have a big impact on your BER. In this article, we will discuss some great ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and your BER.
1. Replace or seal old windows
In winter, the heat usually escapes through the cracks of doors or windows, so it’s important that you seal them properly to ensure there are no air drafts. There are different ways to seal a window, although the easiest thing to do is to place weatherstripping along the frame, which is typically made of rubber, foam or silicone, to achieve an airtight seal. If your windows are only single glazed, they are likely to lose a lot of heat during the colder months, so you should consider replacing them with double glazed windows that have an air chamber that insulates from the cold in winter and the heat in summer. When choosing your new windows, keep in mind that PVC or wood frames are better than aluminium because they are less conductive. Windows must also have a thermal break, which is usually a piece of insulating plastic placed on the inside of the frame to reduce conductivity.
2. Choose energy-efficient lighting
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your home’s BER is to change your lighting. Replacing old, inefficient light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs is a quick way to reduce your electricity bills. If your home is like most houses in Ireland, you probably have about 11 light bulbs. Swapping your 40-watt bulbs for “A” rated energy-saving models will save you approximately €143.88 per year.
3. Insulate your chimney
If you have a fireplace in your home, it will probably create drafts when it’s not being used. A simple solution is to install a balloon to seal off the fireplace when you’re not using it and prevent the cold from entering and the heat from escaping. These balloons are available in different sizes to ensure a correct fit in the fireplace and are often reusable, so you can remove it in winter and reinstall it next year. And if, for some reason, you forget to remove the balloon, it will deflate quickly when exposed to heat to allow gases and smoke to escape safely.
4. Replace your boiler
Diesel or LPG boilers or electric radiators have become obsolete in terms of efficiency. Moreover, if your boiler is more than 12 years old, you should replace it with a more efficient model. Natural gas boilers require a smaller investment that will amortise in between 3 to 5 years and have more reasonable consumption. Biomass boilers are another interesting option, although the most efficient thing to do is to combine a low-consumption condensing boiler with a low-temperature underfloor heating system. It is also recommended to install an intelligent heating control system, which will allow you to save even more money.
5. Improve your home’s insulation
Optimising your home’s insulation can reduce approximately 30% of your heating and/or air conditioning energy expenditure. Insulating your home’s exterior by placing several layers of insulation, one of which must be reinforced with fiberglass mesh, is the most efficient option when it comes to reducing heat transfer through the walls. If you can’t insulate your house from the outside, you can apply thermal insulation on the internal sides of the facades and party walls and then cover it with a new interior finish. This is a cheaper solution, although it is a less effective one, since the thermal bridges may not be covered. In addition, it is essential to insulate the roof by installing a layer of thermal insulation, since it may have an even greater surface area than the vertical facades and the floor of your home.
For best results, you can request a BER assessor to come and evaluate your home. This professional will determine the amount of energy used for heating, ventilation, lighting and hot water, as well as the number of people living in the home. Consequently, they will draft up a BER advisory report, including recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
The energy cost of a 100 m2 house with an “A” BER rating is estimated to amount to approximately €380 per year, while a house of identical dimensions with a “G” BER rating will require you to shell out €4,000, according to the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland. So, it’s worth taking a look at the SEAI’s grants and getting to work to make your home more energy efficient.