The focus on efficient use of energy has increased significantly in both the residential and commercial markets in Ireland and the UK over the last number of years on account of sharply rising costs in the traditional fuel sources; oil, gas, coal etc. At the same time, Governments across the EU have moved to meet the challenge by providing grant assistance to citizens and businesses that take on green technology solutions and creating legislative frameworks that actively promote / mandate the design of more energy efficient buildings.
Home and business owners who are looking to take a step into the Green Energy space are typically faced with the first question – ‘where do I start?’ The answer in all cases should be an assessment of projected or measured energy demand – how much am I or will I use? The assessment should include an examination of energy supply options – what is/are the best option(s) to meet my demand profile? Assessments typically take the form of an Energy Audit or a Building Energy Rating (BER).
What is an Energy Audit?An energy audit is an assessment of the energy performance of a building or to put it simply, an ‘energy health check’. It can highlight areas that require more attention and show which options are best suited to a particular building design and location. Starting from initial plans, the Audit Report investigates a number of different scenarios and shows how they can affect a building’s energy performance.
What is a BER? A building energy rating (BER) is simply an official certificate which indicates your home’s measured or expected energy performance and carbon footprint. Your home is put on an A-B-C-D-E type scale similar to the ratings on fridges and washing machines, giving you a clear idea of the running costs you can expect to pay. An official BER can only be issued by a trained assessor who is registered with Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
BER – the Legal Requirements: In Ireland, an official Building Energy Rating (BER) is required by law if you are buying a new house for which the application for planning permission was submitted on or after 1st January 2007. Developers selling homes from plans are also required to provide a Provisional BER to buyers. Owner/occupiers will need a Final BER before moving in to the new dwelling. These BERs will be officially logged with the SEI. Some Local Authorities request a provisional BER upon application for planning permission.
Grants: Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is promoting the wider use of Green Energy solutions in the Commercial market via a range of grants available through the Renewable Heat (ReHeat) Deployment Programme. A key requirement of a ReHeat grant approval is that an initial project feasibility study is undertaken. This study is the equivalent of a commercial energy audit and is intended to comprehensively assess the energy saving potential and overall project costs of the proposed green initiatives being considered by the commercial entity. Grant assistance is available for feasibility study. Currently, there is no grant assistance available to home owners for an energy audit or survey.
The Recommended Process: Energy audits and surveys are the best first step in assessing your home/building energy needs. Enerfina recommends an audit or survey to all customers contemplating a significant change to their home/building. The simple 3-step process involves:
- Measuring your heating demand (kW/m2)
- Assessing energy supply options (Solar, Geothermal, Wood Pellet, Wind Turbine etc.) and finally
- Calculating the delivery costs and payback periods.