A: The energy efficiency of your home will definitely effect its value. According to a recent estimate from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), every grade you move up on the BER will increase the value of the property value by 1 pc. If you move from a G rating to an A2, the value will increase by 10 pc. I think this is a conservative estimate. People are now considering the purchase of a home in view of its running costs. It’s like buying a car: you need to know the potential cost of running the vehicle as well as the initial purchase price. It’s hard to calculate this exactly because one of the unpredictability of fuel costs. Some mortgage providers are also offering “green mortgages”, which are available at a preferential fixed interest rate for homes that are rated B3 or higher. That’s a real incentive for first time buyers and it’s having an impact on the market. Overall, a home that performs poorly on the BER will be worth less than a similar home with a higher rating.

For homeowners, the first step is to get a Home Energy Assessment. This rates your home’s energy performance on a scale between A (the most energy efficient) and G (the least energy efficient). It’s a bit like getting a building survey, which ensures that the home is structurally sound and safe, and is a requirement for getting a mortgage. Now buyers are looking at a Home Energy Assessment as well. This will cost between €700 and €1,000, depending on the provider. This cost is mitigated by a Home Energy Assessment grant of €350 from SEAI.

The Home Energy Assessment will give you your BER certificate, which is valid for ten years, and a pathway to a B2 rating or better. The recommendation will depend on your home and what the assessor believes is the most effective way to get there. The SEAI website has a list of providers. Some will undertake single measures; others specialise in bigger projects. They will also advise you on your eligibility for grants, which typically cover about one third of the cost of works. Home energy upgrades are intended to be a cost-neutral process: the combination of grants and savings over time will cover the cost.

For most homes, the priority is improving insulation. That’s an easy win and has a positive impact on BER. The assessor may also recommend a bigger retrofitting project, like replacing an oil or gas boiler with a heat pump that uses renewable energy. This is the biggest measure you can take to improve your BER, but it can only be done in a home that’s adequately insulated and not every building is suitable. Other measures include installing solar panels to heat water or to generate electricity. Remember to keep any certifications, receipts, invoices or specification documents. You will need this information if you choose to sell your property.

In general, a high performing house is desirable. Those who improve the energy efficiency of their homes find there are immediate benefits: bills are lower; the air is cleaner; and rooms that used to be cold are now liveable. There’s also great peace of mind that comes from doing what you can. A lot of these things depend on your vision of the future.

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