I’ve spent €10,000 on home insulation and my energy rating is still the same. How can this be?

Property Clinic: I was never told that my home’s energy efficiency might not improve

I wonder if you could share your thoughts on my recent experience of upgrading the insulation and heating in my apartment. My apartment was originally assessed and assigned a D2 BER rating in 2013.

Since then, I have upgraded the radiators, changed the flooring and in the last few months had 92mm warm board installed to the external walls in the apartment. After spending approximately €10,000, the latest assessor has assigned a BER of D2 again.

I am disappointed to say the least after the expense and upheaval of the dry-lining work in particular, and my effort to improve my energy rating, reduce heating bills and make a small difference to the environment.

When hiring the insulation company, at no point was I informed that there was a possibility of the BER, or measurement of these improvements, not increasing. Is this usual?


Building energy ratings or BERs were brought into law in Ireland following the energy performance of buildings directive’s introduction from the European Union in 2002 and were updated in 2010, writes Fergus Merriman.

The primary aim of BER ratings primarily is to reduce the effects that buildings create on our external environment through heating and cooling, which amount to about 35 per cent of the human impacts on climate change. Of course, another objective was to provide a benchmark for improvement and to encourage individuals like yourself to improve the energy efficiency of your home while reducing carbon emissions.

To assess any BER involves using Ireland’s specific methodology called “Domestic Energy Assessment Procedure” or “Deap” for short. This is a complicated programme that can only be completed by a trained assessor on the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland’s list.

Deap has also been updated and we are now on version 4.2, which adjusts and corrects several historical anomalies that existed previously. Updates are necessary because as the methods to assess a building’s carbon footprint improve, so also does our understanding of the performance of a building’s various characteristics.

Your good intentions to improve your situation are not just good for the environment but are good for your comfort and your pocket too. However, it’s probable that your early BER was assessed on the older version of Deap while the later BER is based on the current model and hence the lack of improvement on the rating despite your best efforts.

Contractors installing fabric upgrades are best sourced from the SEAI’s list of approved persons who will usually inform you of the investment options for your home and the effects on your BER based on your existing BER report. This will steer them towards the most effective manner to approach proposed improvements. However, they are usually not able to make value decisions without having a current or “target” evaluation by an approved assessor using the up-to-date method.

Apartments such as yours will usually have a relatively good “fabric” rating because a relatively high percentage of the external elements such as walls, floors and ceilings are often shared with other units with a lower or limited number of surfaces in direct contact with the outside environment. Therefore, improvements to the relatively small areas concerned no matter how good they might be, may not result in a substantive change for the better in your rating. In addition, the use of direct electrical heating and the inability to provide any form of renewable energy will drag the rating down even if radiators or heating methods are upgraded.

Usually, the biggest BER penalty in apartments is loss of energy through a “leaky” fabric because air tightness has not been addressed at the time of build. This is mostly caused by poorly fitted or low-quality windows and doors, or gaps left into attic spaces or ducts. Sealing these up will help but the problem is then ensuring that air quality is maintained by adequately controlled ventilation, which is critical to good health.

Installing an exhaust-air heat-pump ventilation heating system which further reduces energy losses while maintaining good air quality is now a very valid investment option. It will certainly improve your BER rating, save you money and improve your comfort and health. If the layout of your apartment permits it, it is well worth considering.

Your latest BER report should list the measures that the assessor considers will have the biggest impact in helping you improve your BER rating above your new D2 assessment. That is a good place to start.

Fergus Merriman is a chartered building surveyor and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI)