Academic journal article Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland

Estimating the Impact of Household Energy Savings Measures for Ireland Using the BER Database

Academic journal article Journal of the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society of Ireland

Estimating the Impact of Household Energy Savings Measures for Ireland Using the BER Database

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper estimates the impacts of various household energy saving measures in Ireland. The analysis develops a matrix of household energy use and types based on the Building Energy Rating (BER) system and the major dwelling and fuel-use types. It explicitly models the difference between using the BER data versus Census data. The analysis uses data from the BER, SEAI, and CSO, and other public sources. Modelling work estimated the distribution of energy ratings for the national sample of households from the BER sample, with the results indicating that the worst energy-rated households were about seven per cent underrepresented in the BER sample. The system, data, and modelled predictions were then used to perform some preliminary cost benefit analysis on energy savings measures versus costs in terms of the overall housing stock in Ireland. The results and model were used by SEAI to inform them of values and options in their energy savings policy work. Indicative results suggest that accounting for underrepresentation of the most inefficient housing units and policies aimed at the lower efficiency units may have the highest ratio of costs over benefits.

Keywords: household energy use, Building Energy Rating (BER), Ireland

JELs: Q40, Q48


This article estimates the energy savings from a variety of residential upgrade retrofit 'measures' (20 measures in total) in Ireland as applied to various households with different Building Energy Rating (BER) certifications. Domestic energy use in Ireland and the EU is one of the areas where policy makers believe large and cost effective energy savings may be possible. Domestic energy use in Ireland represents about twenty five per cent of total final energy consumption (CSO 2012). (1) More widely in the EU, buildings account for forty per cent of European energy consumption (European Commission, 2004). This means that demand for lighting, heating, cooling, and hot water in homes, workplaces and leisure facilities consume more energy than either transport or industry within the EU, making buildings an ideal focus for energy policy. Energy efficiency in this area has the potential to help in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs while at the same time contributing to the security and affordability of energy supply, economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability.

The initial policy related studies available suggest domestic energy efficiency in Ireland may be one of the low-hanging fruits in GHG mitigation policy. Given that the Irish housing stock is one of the least energy efficient in Northern Europe (Ahern et al., 2013; Lapillonne et al., 2012; Brophy et al., 1999), any such changes have the potential to have a significant effect in terms of reduced energy consumption, reduced emissions, and boosting the economy. (2)

One initiative consistent with EU policy and focusing on buildings in Ireland is the introduction of the Building Energy Rating (BER) certification, whereby the overall efficiency of residential and commercial buildings is rated on a scale from A to G. This initiative was created as part of the Implementation of EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) in 2006 (3). This was followed by subsequent energy efficiency policies such as the Low Carbon Homes Programme in 2008 (4); the Home Energy Saving Scheme in 2009 (5), which was superseded by the Affordable Energy Strategy in 2011 (DCENR, 2011); and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2009-2020 (DCENR, 2013). All new buildings, buildings for sale or sold, or rented, must have an energy rating. Ratings can be obtained at the request of the owner. Thus, older homes or residences and properties that were never sold or rented may not have a rating.

BERs are estimated by trained and registered assessors who take detailed measurements of the residence in question. Assessors measure, inter alia, the area of the rooms, the size of the windows, the thickness of the walls, the levels of insulation, details of the heating system, the number of fireplace flues, floor types and wall types. …

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