Heat Loss Survey faq

What is a Heat Loss survey?
A Heat Loss survey surveys the house for unintended heat loss caused by building defects. These defects can be unintended infiltration of air into the house, missing / damaged insulation, thermal bridging, dampness or leaking pipes.

How is a Heat Loss Survey carried out?
A Heat Loss survey uses three measuring devices, an infrared camera, a blower door and a smoke machine (if required).

Thermal Imaging (using high spec infrared cameras) is based on the principle that all objects emit thermal radiation and is used in the building industry to identify patterns of heat loss from your home that are invisible to the naked eye. This camera is able to identify areas or features of buildings where heat loss is excessive.

Blower Door is used to measure how "Air tight" your home is. All buildings are designed to allow air to circulate throughout the building and outside. Due to building defects, however, the actual air change rate and that designed can vary significantly. This causes excessive heat loss.

Smoke Machine is used to help identify the source of the air infiltration. An example is where we fill the basement or attic space with smoke, depressurise the house with the blower door and look for the smoke entering the house. This then gives a clear indication of where the building imperfections are and solutions can be presented on the spot. The smoke generated is neutral and does not leave any residues on surfaces or fabrics and is harmless.

Is a Heat Loss survey the same as an Energy Rating?
No. A Building Energy Assessment or Energy Rating provided by SEI registered assessors is purely theoretical rating of how the building should perform if perfectly built. Presently, Energy Ratings are produced from the plans of a building. In contrast, a Heat Loss survey is a real world set of tests conducted on a building as it was built. It therefore highlights design problems, snags in the building work and deterioration from wear, tear and weather damage.

Will a Heat Loss survey actually fix the problem?
No. A Heat Loss survey finds the problem. It still needs to be fixed.

Are there any risks to the house during a survey?
Not normally if the house is in reasonable condition. Fireplaces and flues need to be closed off before the survey. This is both to make the test accurate and to stop soot and ashes being sucked into the fireplace and room. If a house is too damaged to carry out a survey in a safe manner, we will not start the survey.

How long does a survey take?
For a 2 storey 2000 sq ft house, about 5 hours. The report is normally available in 48 hours.

What is the advantage of having a survey done? Can I just fix everything?
Absolutly one can just tackle every problem a house might have. This can be a very expensive option. The main advantage of a proper Heat Loss survey is that it enables you to spend your money wisely and get the best value in terms of payback period. It is very often the case, especially in the Irish climate, that the biggest heat losses are fairly east to fix, once you know what they are.

Does a brand new house need a Heat Loss survey? Surely not!
They do. There are many snags that affect the energy performance and subsequent heating bills. A Heat Loss survey can be thought of as just as normal as a structural survey. There is no point in paying good money for problems. If a house is being built, the Heat Loss survey is best conducted after the door and windows go in so that insulation problems and draughts are easily fixed.

How much ventilation is needed?
A well built house could achieve two air changes per hour at 50 pascals pressure. Most houses built have over 5 times this and others have 10 times as much!

Can a house have too little ventilation?
Yes. The air tightness test in the Heat Loss survey will show if the ventilation level is too low.

Energy Audit faq

What is an Energy Audit?
A process used to evaluate the usage of energy in your home or building. The purpose of the process is to identify opportunities to reduce usage through equipment retrofits or repairs

Who carries out the Energy Audit?
You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have an independant professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit.

Why have an Energy Audit carried out?
A lot of different elements effect the energy use in a home. An energy audit will allow you to identify cost savings that may be able to be made from reducing energy use in your home.

Building Energy Rating faq

What is a BER?
A BER (Building Energy Rating) is standard calculation of the energy performance of a building, produced by a qualified assessor using procedures including calculation method and software approved by SEI and including a survey of the building where required by direction of SEI. It is rather like the mpg or l/km rating for a motorcar or the A to G rating for a household electrical appliance.

What does the BER Certificate look like?
BER is based on primary energy demand and the BER scale ranges from “A1” (most efficient) to “G” (least efficient). To see what each band relates to in terms of primary energy demand, download a copy of a BER Certificate here.

Why is there a need for Building Energy Rating (BER)?
Building Energy Rating (BER) is a requirement of the EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive or EPBD (2002/91/EC of 16 December 2002), which has now been transposed in Ireland by the European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 666 of 2006)

The building owner is required to provide the BER to prospective buyers and tenants. BER will, therefore, make the energy performance characteristics of the building transparent to prospective buyers and tenants. As a result, buyers and tenants will be able, for the first time, to take energy performance into consideration in their decision to purchase or rent a building.

Overall, the message in a market context is: “information is power”. BER is about equipping the consumer with information and the consequent power to act in their own best interests.

What are the BER implementation dates in Ireland?
The requirement to provide a BER is being introduced on a phased basis as follows:

New dwellings: The regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st January 2007. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new dwellings for which planning permission is applied on or before 31st December 2006, where the new dwellings involved are substantially completed on or before 30th June 2008.
New Non-Domestic Buildings: The regulations apply to new dwellings for which planning permission was applied for on or after 1st July 2008. Transitional BER exemptions will apply to new non-domestic buildings for which planning permission is applied on or before 30th June 2008 provided the new non-domestic buildings involved are substantially completed by 30th June 2010.
Existing Buildings (dwellings and other buildings) when offered for sale or letting on or after 1st January 2009.

What happens when a dwelling is sold “off plans”?
A ‘Provisional BER Certificate’ must be produced by the vendor to potential buyers or tenants, when the new dwelling is offered for sale “off plans”. This certificate is based upon the pre- construction plans. When the relevant new dwelling is completed, the vendor is obligated to arrange for a new BER certificate to be supplied to the purchaser, based on the plans of the dwelling as constructed (to take account of any design changes during construction).

What happens if I build a dwelling for my own use?
A BER certificate must be procured by the person commissioning a dwelling for their own use, prior to taking up occupation of the dwelling.

Why has the introduction of BERs been phased?
A period 3 years (2007-2009) is required to allow the phasing of:

development and delivery of training programmes for BER assessors to enable their formal registration;
development and adoption of methodologies for the calculation of energy performance for new and existing buildings;
development and adoption of BER certificates and related advisory reports;
development of appropriate software and hardware systems to enable BER assessors to produce BERs;
development of a central administration system capable of handling in excess of 150,000 BERs per annum in the case of housing transactions alone, and of generating national data on the results of BER activity.

What building categories are exempt from BER?
The following building categories are exempt from BER, as permitted by the EPBD:

national monuments;
protected structures;
places of worship or buildings used for the religious activities of any religion;
certain temporary buildings;
non-residential industrial or agricultural buildings with a low installed heating capacity (less than 10 W/m2);
stand alone buildings with a small useful floor area (less than 50m2).

How will BER of New Dwellings be carried out?
The owner/developer of the new dwelling will engage a registered BER assessor listed on the Register of BER Assessors (www.sei.ie/ber) to carry out the BER based on the plans and specifications for the new building. All BER Assessors will be required to follow a standardised procedure using an approved calculation methodology and to adhere to a standard code of practice.

How will the BER of Existing Dwellings be carried out?
The BER assessor will normally survey the dwelling to record, for example, the size of the dwelling, the construction, the insulation levels, the types of windows, the ventilation features, details of the heating and hot water systems, etc. This information will then be used to generate the BER which represents the energy performance of the dwelling. All BER assessors will be required to follow a standardised procedure using an approved survey and calculation methodology to generate the rating.

A BER of an existing dwelling being offered for sale or letting on or after 1st January 2009 must be carried out by a registered BER assessor, at the expense of the owner - who must provide the resulting BER certificate and advisory report to prospective buyers/tenants.

What will happen if I do not obtain a BER for my dwelling as required by law?
If you do not comply with a BER requirement you will be liable, on conviction in the District Court, to a maximum fine of €5,000. Failure to secure a BER certificate at the proper time could hinder or delay the legal completion of a sale or letting or a future disposal of the relevant dwelling.

Is there a danger that the BER requirement will delay property transactions?
The phased introduction of the implementation of the BER system should ensure that there is an adequate supply of registered BER assessors to meet the service demand that will arise when each phase is made mandatory.

The target turnaround time for production of a BER for dwellings - from the date of first communication by the vendor, lessor, or agent to a registered BER assessor to publication on the BER register - is two weeks. Following this period, the BER certificate can be issued to the client and confirmed online at www.sei.ie/ber. The BER assessor will submit the results to SEI for publication on the BER register, and then be able to generate the BER certificate and advisory report for issuing to the client.

Who will carry out the BER?
BERs will be carried out by specially trained BER assessors, registered by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI). A register of BER Assessors is available on the SEI website www.sei.ie/ber . BER assessors (usually building professionals like architects, engineers, etc.) must have successfully completed a validated training programme provided by an accredited training provider which meets the requirement of the training specification which was published by SEI in October 2006. This specification may also be viewed and downloaded from the SEI website.

BER assessors must also meet any other requirements set by SEI, including the signing of a Code of Conduct and providing a declaration of interests.

It is an offence for persons not registered with SEI as BER assessors to purport to carry out a BER assessment service for the purposes of the Regulations and SEI will only publish ratings produced by registered BER assessors.

Who pays for the BER Certificate?
It is the building owner’s responsibility to commission and pay for the BER. In the case of new dwellings, this will be the owner of the new dwelling i.e. builder (including persons building a dwelling for their own use) or developer (whether an individual, a local authority or other housing provider). For existing buildings offered for sale or rent on or after 1st January 2009, the owner (directly or through their agent) is responsible for commissioning and paying for the BER.

I am not buying or selling a building, Does this BER requirement affect me?
No it does not affect you. The BER requirement only applies to buildings that are being constructed, sold or rented.

My home doesn’t need a rating, Can I get one done anyway?
You can get a BER assessment done for your dwelling to establish the energy rating it would achieve. The result can not be uploaded onto the national database and hence you will not get an official BER Certificate for your dwelling.

What happens if a building gets a relatively low BER?
There is no legal penalty for getting an inferior BER for an existing dwelling. However, new dwellings must comply with the “Conservation of Fuel and Energy” Part L provisions of the Building Regulations. The impact of a lower BER on the marketability of dwellings offered for sale or letting will depend on overall housing supply, demand and other property market factors and on the availability/ price of domestic fuels.

What happens if a BER shows that a new dwelling does not comply with Part L of the Building Regulations?
All new dwellings must comply with the Building Regulations Including Part L which relates to energy. If a registered BER assessor finds that a new dwelling does not comply with the regulations, he or she is required to advise his/her client that they appear to be in breach of Regulations, explain the issues that have resulted in the apparent breach, encourage them in as strong terms as possible to rectify issues. He or she should also advise his or her client that the new owner will have a right of access to this information.

What can be done to improve a BER for an existing dwelling?
Building energy performance options might include measures such as:

insulating the hot water cylinder and pipework;
increasing the insulation in the walls/ attic/floor;
installing advanced energy efficient glazing;
replacing an old or inefficient boiler with a more efficient boiler;
installing modern heating controls;
installing certain types of renewable energy heating systems.

For this reason, the advisory report will be a key document in relation to existing dwellings. It may be particularly useful to those who have just purchased an existing dwelling which they plan to improve or remodel in their early stages of occupation.

How long will a BER remain valid?
A BER for a building will be valid for 10 years from the date of issue, unless there is a material change in the building in the meantime which could affect its energy performance - for example an extension to the building, a significant change to the building fabric or a change in the heating system or fuel used. Therefore if a property which has received a BER is placed on the market within 10 years of that BER being issued, and the property has experienced no relevant alteration in the meantime, then that same BER may be used by the building owner for the purposes of meeting their obligations under the Regulations.

What is the BER methodology?
The national methodology for the BER of new dwellings was published in June 2006 and is called the Dwellings Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP), which can be viewed and downloaded as a calculation workbook and manual at www.sei.ie/ber. 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 certain provisions of Part L of the Building Regulations and also to produce a BER. The national methodology for non-residential buildings has not yet been decided. The European Standards body (CEN) is currently developing relevant standards.

What impact will BER have on Irish householders?
The BER requirement will impact on an estimated 170,000 sale or rental transactions per year. BERs will mean that anyone buying a house will be able to check the energy performance of the house and get an indication of the annual running costs. It will allow people to take energy costs into consideration in their purchasing decisions. This is becoming more and more important as energy costs are increasing all the time.

BERs will allow house hunters to compare the energy performance of two different houses on an equal scale. It will allow you to compare two houses that on the surface appear very similar such as two 3-bed semi detached dwellings or equally two very different houses, such as a 2 bed apartment and a 5 bed house.

BER will ultimately improve energy awareness in the property market both for home buyers and developers and this awareness can be expected over time to place a somewhat higher value on more energy efficient properties. In time, it is likely that householders who have received low energy ratings will wish to improve and maximise the energy performance of their property. By doing so, they will increase the comfort and affordability of their dwellings and enhance their value and sustainability.

What impact will BERs have on owners or renters of dwellings?
A person wishing to sell or let a house will be required to get a BER carried out by a registered BER assessor and to provide prospective buyers or tenants with this information. This will increase awareness of energy performance as a factor in the property market. Those with better rated homes (i.e. more energy efficient homes) will be motivated to highlight this as a positive selling point while those with poorer rated homes may be motivated to upgrade their homes to improve the energy rating.

It is expected that investments in the energy performance of homes will benefit building owners and users in terms of improved comfort, lower energy running costs and possibly higher property values. Over time it can be expected to contribute to a change in market behaviour, which will ultimately improve the energy efficiency of the national housing stock and collectively, over time, these market activities could result in an environmental protection benefit in terms of a reduction in CO2 emissions from Ireland’s national building stock.

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.

What is a Preliminary BER Certificate?
If the house is to be offered for sale "off the plans" then a preliminary BER Certificate is required by the developer. This certificate will be in black and white and have "Preliminary" written on it.

What is a Full BER Certificate?
When the house is completed a Full BER Certificate is required before the sale can close. This certificate is in colour.

What information does the BER assessor require?
All the information required by the BER assessor is to be supplied by the developer. The BER assessor is not required to visit the site during construction. Click here for a detailed list.

Who does it impact after January 1st 2009?
After January 1st 2009, all homeowners who are looking to sell or rent their house will need to get their house energy rated as well. The rating will enable prospective buyers and renters to calculate how efficient the property will be to heat. A home receiving a good energy rating will therefore be more attractive to potential buyers i.e. making the home more valuable.

How could I find out the Building Energy Rating of my house?
You can contact
Carhoo Technical Services who will carry out the assessment and issue you with a rating and an advisory report. The advisory report details the measures to be taken to improve your house's BER rating.

Who will do the assessment?
The assessment will be carried out by independent qualified BER Assessors registered with the SEI.

Can someone who is not looking to sell or rent their property make good use of a BER test anyway?
Absolutely! Energy costs are rising with seemingly no end in sight. Since the year 2000, the
price of home oil has risen by 60%, gas by 55% and electricity by 44% and the ESB have announced a further 35-37% increase over 2006 prices. Making recommended changes in energy efficient products can save hundreds of euros a year or more. Insulating cavities in walls, lining ceilings and floors with insulation; installing double glazed windows; better heating systems such as combination boilers and improved control systems are just a few ways to make your homes heating more efficient.

Is the Building Energy Rating like an NCT for the house?
No. Unlike your car which by law needs to meet minimum standards for road worthiness and emissions control, the BER is only a rating of a home's energy efficiency. The homeowner looking to sell or rent is under no obligation at this time to make any recommended improvements.
What is an Energy Audit?
A process used to evaluate the usage of energy in your home or building. The purpose of the process is to identify opportunities to reduce usage through equipment retrofits or repairs

Who carries out the Energy Audit?
You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have an independant professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit.

Why have an Energy Audit carried out?
A lot of differnet elements effect the energy use in a home. An energy audit will allow you to identify cost savings that may be able to be made from reducing energy use in your home.