The ENERGY STAR Quality Installation Program ("ESQI") launched in 2008. Since that time, significant changes have occurred in energy efficiency program design and implementation and within the HVAC industry. ENERGY STAR has also learned lessons about what has worked and not worked well within the ESQI program.
In May 2012, EPA began the process to improve the ESQI program, which includes changing the program's name to ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation ("ESVI").
Check out our webinar recording where Chandler von Schrader, EPA's National Program Manager, explains the program changes being considered.
ENERGY STAR encourages the HVAC stakeholder community to review the webinar and the draft program materials described below:
ENERGY STAR is accepting comments on the above materials. Please submit your comments to hvacVI@energystar.gov.
Objectives of the program include:
- Educating homeowners when they are replacing their HVAC system. Building awareness of the importance of quality installation as an important factor in their purchasing decision.
- Creating a program with national reach so all households in the U.S. can participate.
- Enabling HVAC contractors to promote and profit from properly installing HVAC systems. This includes helping them differentiate their business from other contractors who may sell the same equipment but take short cuts when installing those systems.
- Reducing the amount of wasted energy and associated carbon emissions that result from improper installation of replacement HVAC systems in existing homes.
- Growing the market for home professionals who can assess and verify HVAC systems.
- Strengthening industry-based oversight organizations that credential HVAC contractors.
- Transforming the market and empowering utilities and other program sponsors to cost-effectively incentivize HVAC quality installation practices.
Program changes being considered include:
- Relying on third party HVAC Quality Installation Oversight Organizations "H-QUITO's" that have national reach.
- Creating an HVAC Contractor Checklist to help contractors and third parties capture critical performance characteristics of HVAC systems being replaced.
- Creating a Verifier Checklist that provides a common benchmark to evaluate a newly installed HVAC system.
- Issuing an ENERGY STAR Certificate of Completion so homeowners have the peace of mind that their HVAC system was verified to meet ENERGY STAR specifications.
- Providing more marketing support to help HVAC Contractors and programs create demand.
HVAC Contractor Checklist
Based on the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes' HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor Checklist and HVAC industry standards, the ESVI Contractor Checklist (161KB) is intended to be used by the HVAC Contractors' designers and installers when replacing a furnace, central air conditioner and/or Heat Pump.
Upon completion of the HVAC Contractor Checklist, the HVAC Contractor would submit the documentation to an oversight organization.
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Based on the ENERGY STAR Certified Homes' HVAC System Quality Installation Rater Checklist and HVAC industry standards, the ESVI Verifier Checklist (92KB) is intended to be used by a third party to perform a file review on all submitted installations and a field inspection on a random sample of installations.
Upon completion of the Verifier Checklist, the ESVI Certificate of Completion would be issued to the homeowner.
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Application for Recognition for H-QUITOs
HVAC Quality Installation Oversight Organizations play a critical role by credentialing contractors, issuing Certificates of Completion, reporting completed jobs to ENERGY STAR, and protecting the ENERGY STAR brand.
Some of the proposed criteria for an organization to become a recognized H-QUITO include:
- National scope of operations
- 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) not-for-profit
- Board of Directors / Executive Committee with balanced representation
- Open participation
- Not directly involved in selling, installing, and/or maintaining HVAC equipment
ENERGY STAR is accepting comments on the eligibility criteria, roles, and responsibilities for H-QUITOs. If you would like a copy of the draft H-QUITO Application for Recognition, please contact hvacVI@energystar.gov.
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Quality Installation Measures and Energy Savings
Across the country, energy efficiency program sponsors view "quality installation" in different ways. Some programs include duct sealing as a required measure. Other sponsors have stand alone programs for duct sealing and for the purchase of efficient equipment.
The ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation Program takes a fairly broad view of quality installation. ESVI has proposed all of the following as requirements:
- Installation of ENERGY STAR Certified equipment
- Proper sizing - the installed equipment capacity matches the home's heating / cooling load
- Matching indoor and outdoor units
- Verifying a minimum level of duct tightness
- Checking for properly charged refrigerant
- Verifying that system airflow is within acceptable parameters
According to a variety of industry sources and studies, the performance of an HVAC system can be significantly compromised if even one of these measures are not properly addressed.
ENERGY STAR is accepting comments on:
- The applicability of each of these measures and the energy savings attributable to one or all of them
- Whether there are certain HVAC system configurations that may make some of the measures less-than-critical to ensure that the HVAC system is properly installed
- The ability of program sponsors to capture energy savings for one or all of the measures
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Marketing Resources and Support
Most homeowners do not necessarily understand that:
- HVAC equipment is not plug-and-play
- The installing contractor's installation is critical to system performance
- Their newly purchased equipment may create comfort problems, higher utility costs, and equipment failure(s) as a result of improper installation
Due to this lack of consumer awareness, many contractors who want to properly install equipment face homeowner skepticism when explaining how their services are different from their low-cost competition.
In order to address this market barrier, ENERGY STAR will develop consumer messaging and resources to help HVAC contractors and program sponsors explain the importance of ENERGY STAR Verified HVAC Installation.
Some of these resources will include:
- A new customer facing webpage where homeowners can learn about 1) the importance of quality installation practices and 2) where to find a credentialed contractor
- A consumer brochure (4.8MB) for HVAC contractors to give to their customers to more readily differentiate how their services may be a better value than their lower priced competition
- A Certificate of Completion, which can give the customer peace of mind that their system was installed and verified according to ENERGY STAR guidelines.
ENERGY STAR is accepting comments on the messaging of the consumer brochure. ENERGY STAR encourages HVAC stakeholders to submit ideas about which resource(s) provides the most "bang-for-the-buck" as a means to transform the HVAC replacement market.
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