Chile’s Housing Energy Rating

When you buy a new appliance, such as a fridge or washing machine, it is common practice to at least consider the energy consumption label. No one wants to buy a fridge with a “C” label.

When you buy a new car, most people will at least ask what the fuel consumption is per kilometer (nowadays new cars have an energy lable).

So why don’t we demand the same information when we buy (or build) a house?

This is one of the biggest investments we will make in our lifetime, yet we don’t take into consideration the operational costs over that lifetime. What may seem “cheap” today, may be expensive when we consider heating costs over a 20/30 year period.

It is also important to take into account the impact that poor building standards have on health and living standards. Chilean cities in winter are plagued with terrible air conditions, so extreme that children are not able to play sports at school and hospitals are overrun with people with respiratory problems. This situation would be so different if we built quality houses that don´t require excessive energy consumption for heating purposes.  It is also important to understand that discussions around the burning of (often wet) firewood or alternative fuels are still focused on the symptoms of the problem. The “disease” is something else completely.

Thankfully the Chilean building standards (from an energy use perspective) are improving. However, the Housing Energy Rating (Calificación Energética de Viviendas) is still a voluntary system and is only compulsory for social housing.   

Apart from basing our house on the Passive House Standard, we will be certifying our house using the Chilean Housing Energy Rating (CEV), so I will tell you a little more about what it entails.

What is CEV?

The Housing Energy Rating (CEV) is a tool that allows you to measure and evaluate, in a standardized and objective manner, the overall energy performance of a home in Chile, taking into account appropriate parameters based on the national context. Measurement and evaluation of the CEV model provides indicators that allow the identification and comparison of the thermal performance and energy efficiency of homes. This has in turn lead to such indicators becoming differentiating elements (value added elements) at the time of purchasing a property. The system evaluates the dynamic interaction of the house with the climate of the area in which it is located, to then determine its energy performance. This translates into a Prequalification, when assessed at the stage of design, and Qualification, when applied once the home has been constructed. The energy performance is shown in a detailed report, as well as, through a label and seal.

What are the main indicators used in CEV?

  1. Energy Savings (percentage): the energy demand for adequate heating, cooling and lighting in the house. The energy saving percentage is obtained by comparing the energy demand of the evaluated property, with the energy demand of a reference house. The percentage represents the energy efficiency of the architecture of the house.
  2. Energy Efficiency Level (letter): In order to illustrate the reduction in the energy demand of the house, the percentage of energy saved is transformed into a letter ranging from “A+” to “G”, where A+ represents the highest percentage of energy saved and G represents a higher consumption than the minimum standard.
  3. Energy Requirement (demand): This indicator details the energy demand per square metre of the house (kWh/m2), and the energy demand for heating and cooling separately.

Example of the Qualification and Lable:

Through out the building of our house, we will reference CEV in this blog, with more details on each of the elements measured.

And finally, just as a reference, if your house was built after the year 2007, and it was received by the Municipality (which verifies, among other things, compliance with the General Urban and Construction Ordenance), and absolutely no energy improvements were incorporated in the design, your house qualifies with the letter “E”.

Our hope is to receive an “A” certification.  

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