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ENERGY STAR Quality Installation

You may be familiar with the ENERGY STAR label on energy efficient heating and cooling equipment, but did you know there are also Quality Installation (QI) guidelines to help ensure that heating and cooling equipment is installed properly? Nearly half of all heating and cooling equipment in U.S. homes never performs to its advertised capacity and efficiency due to incorrect installation, which means homeowners pay higher operating costs over the life of the equipment.

The ENERGY STAR QI program helps homeowners identify contractors who install heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment to the QI guidelines. By purchasing high efficiency equipment and having it properly installed, a homeowner can lower their energy bills, increase comfort in their home, and extend the useful life of their equipment.

The ENERGY STAR QI program requires a local sponsor, such as an electric or gas utility. For more information on ENERGY STAR QI program in your area, contact your local sponsor. But even if your utility does not yet offer an ENERGY STAR QI program, you may be able to find local contractors who follow some of the Quality Installation procedures. Use the Bid Comparison Checklist PDF (350KB) to help find the right contractor for you.

Program Benefits

When your new heating and cooling equipment is installed to meet ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines, you avoid common installation problems that can reduce the efficiency of your home. These improvements to efficiency can reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 30%.

ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Guidelines, are based on the Air Conditioning Contractors of America's (ACCA) HVAC Quality Installation Specification, and is recognized as an American National Standard. These industry best practices help ensure that your new equipment is:

  • Correctly sized to meet your home's needs
  • Connected to a well-sealed duct system
  • Operating with sufficient airflow in the system
  • Installed with the proper amount of refrigerant

Whether you are installing a new system or replacing existing heating and cooling equipment, installing equipment properly is essential to getting the best performance.

Estimated savings potential with QI ranges from 18% to 36% for air conditioners and heat pumps and 11% to 18% for furnaces.

The charts below show the losses in typical residential HVAC systems. Quality installations help deliver the equipment's full potential.

Typical Furnace Installation

Pie chart: Energy lost to duct leakage is 15%. Heating delivered is 85%.

Typical Air Conditioner or Heat Pump Installation

Pie chart: Energy lost to duct leakage is 15%. Energy lost to improper refrigerant level is 4%. Energy lost to improper air flow is 3%. Energy lost to improper equipment sizing is 5%. Cooling/Heating delivered is 73%.

Components of a Quality Installation

Proper Sizing of Equipment

Installing the right size equipment for your home is essential to getting the best performance for your heating and cooling equipment and maintaining the comfort you deserve. Some believe that bigger is better when buying new equipment, but a system actually operates best when each component is properly sized. Oversized equipment may cycle on and off more frequently, which can make the home less comfortable and shorten the equipment life. In the ENERGY STAR QI program, contractors will take measurements of your home then do calculations to determine the appropriate size for your air conditioner, furnace or heat pump.

Sealing Ducts

Ducts circulate air from the furnace, central air conditioner or heat pump throughout the house. Often ducts have damage or poor connections that leak the hot or cold air and waste a lot of energy. Sealing ducts can greatly improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. The ENERGY STAR QI program requires that contractors measure duct leakage and make necessary repairs to minimize losses.

Optimizing Air Flow

To operate well, a heating or cooling system needs to have the proper volume of air flow. If air flow is too high or too low , it may make the home less comfortable and increase utility bills. In the ENERGY STAR QI program, contractors will measure air flow and make any adjustments necessary for optimal performance.

Proper Refrigerant Charge (Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Only)

It is important for an air conditioner or heat pump to have the correct amount of refrigerant, or correct refrigerant charge. An improperly charged system may consume more energy and provide less dehumidification. Contractors in the ENERGY STAR HVAC QI program will test refrigerant charge and adjust if necessary to make your home comfortable and avoid waste on your utility bills.

Program Locations

ENERGY STAR Quality Installation programs are currently offered in five states.

U.S. map showing the six states currently offering programs: California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Oregon and Texas

For more information on current programs, contact:

To save energy and money and to receive the comfort and dependability you expect from your heating and air conditioning equipment, ask your utility about qualified contractors in your area and eligibility for rebates. You can also locate qualified contractors through a local Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.