February 2022

Improving our homes BER rating is essentially improving our homes energy efficiency. Depending on where your home is on the BER rating scale, the work required to make improvements will vary. Here are some ways to improve your home’s BER rating, save on your fuel bills and reduce your carbon footprint at home.

BER Assessment

Before you do any work to your house, you should get a BER (Building Energy Rating) done. Doing this will give you a benchmark of the condition of your home and guidance on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

The assessment will detail the energy performance of the house. It will include an advisory report identifying what works to do to improve your home’s energy performance. BER assessments should be done by BER Assessors who have registered with SEAI. You’ll find a list of recommended BER assessors throughout Ireland on the SEAI website.

Upgrade your boiler or heating system

When it comes to heating systems, there are many options to choose from. If possible, you should consider moving away from oil and gas heating systems and upgrading to a heating system based on electricity you generate yourself.

Oil and Gas heating systems are 95% efficient, whereas a heat pump is 100% efficient. For every 1 unit of electricity you put into your heat pump, you get about 3 or 4 units of heat out.

Invest in a smart thermostat

A smart thermostat will learn the temperatures you like when you’re at home and then program itself accordingly. Most smart thermostats will also automatically turn down the heating when you’re away to help save energy.

There are lots of brands available and they are all straightforward to use. They don’t need to be programmed. You simply change the temperature whenever you like during the first few days after installation. The smart thermostat will get to know the temperatures you like and when you want them. Then it programs itself and creates a weekly temperature schedule.

External insulation

Upgrading your insulation is another measure to improve your BER rating. From an energy efficiency point of view, it’s always better to opt for external rather than internal insulation.

Installing external insulation is less disruptive than installing internal insulation and you won’t lose any internal floor area. It is, however, a more costly alternative to internal insulation.

The cost will also depend on the thickness of the insulation you select. Don’t be tempted to skimp on insulation to reduce costs. Always go for the maximum thickness you can afford. The optimum thickness will depend on the product you select. Some thinner boards will provide the same insulation as thicker products depending on the specification, so always check with your installer before purchasing.

Internal Insulation

There are cases where internal insulation makes sense. If you are planning major internal renovations or live in a protected structure where you can’t make changes to the facade, for example.

The thickness of the internal insulation you choose is critical. Unlike external insulation, thicker is not better. Too much insulation can cause issues with mould.

Most major insulation suppliers will do a condensation risk analysis for you. It’s advisable to contact them with information about the buildup of the walls you intend to insulate. They will then be able to calculate the optimum thickness for your home.


Upgrading your windows to either double or triple glazing is a worthwhile investment. Not only will replacing your old windows with more energy-efficient glazing improve your BER rating, but you’ll make a significant improvement to the comfort of your home and also reduce your heating bills.

Triple glazing is now not that much more expensive than high-performance double glazing. When shopping for windows, do your research and buy the very best product you can afford.


Denise O’Connor

Managing Director Optimise Design, B.Arch. RIAI RIBA
& Senator’s Expert Design Consultant
This blog post is sponsored, but the views expressed by the author are her own.

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