In this issue:

A Letter to our HPwES Stakeholders

ENERGY STAR: The simple choice.  ENERGY STAR is a simple choice because it has such positive brand recognition and a strong reputation. Businesses, governments and organizations that partner with ENERGY STAR are typically perceived to have greater interest in sustainability and corporate responsibility because of ENERGY STAR’s focus on energy efficiency, quality, and protecting the environment.  The Guardian reports about a study of S&P 500 companies showing that focusing on sustainability and corporate responsibility yields higher financial returns and lower volatility when compared to traditional approaches.

Many companies focused on improved sustainability are seeing that the supply chains that impact their market value do not stop at the sales counter where a homeowner pays for a product.  The supply chain continues to the person’s home where it matters what is installed and how.  ENERGY STAR has been very successful in influencing decisions about what is installed. 

However, to ensure customers have a positive experience with products and services while preserving the resource efficiency that has gone into their production, companies are becoming more interested in the quality of end-use installation.  Some are considering making this interest more explicit by joining Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to signify that their products are being installed in a thoughtful manner that will not only save energy and protect the environment, but also make their customers happier.  We at DOE have been working with some of these companies to foster their interest in supporting HPwES.  However, we cannot do it alone.

Every HPwES Sponsor, Aggregator, and Participating Contractor should be exploring ways to convey the value of their HPwES offering to stakeholders’ businesses.  In conveying and demonstrating this value, the objective should be to find opportunities for companies focused on sustainability to partner with HPwES stakeholders to enhance the value they both provide to their customers whether through lower prices as a result of more efficient and effective processes, or improved performance of their products and services in their customers’ homes. 

These opportunities should include innovative strategies and tactics to motivate homeowners to work with companies to do HPwES on their homes.  While cash rebates are sometimes nice, motivation techniques can come in the form of: employer-provided vacation days to make scheduling home improvements easier; wellness benefits and insurance discounts for people who decide to make HPwES improvements; bridge financing to help contractors cover expenses; credit enhancements to reduce costs of borrowing; special events (think Earth Day paired with Black Friday) that create a sense of urgency for people to decide to make improvements; and many others.

As the world observes the climate change talks in Paris this December, Americans can take a little bit of comfort in knowing that they have created an elegant mechanism for consumers, businesses, governments and organizations to support sustainability.  It’s a simple choice: ENERGY STAR.

Back to top

HPwES Happenings

Save the Date!

HPwES will be holding the annual Sponsor Meeting on Monday, April 4th 2016 just prior to the ACI Conference in Austin, Texas.  You’ll hear HPwES program updates and presentations on a variety of topics, including new and innovative program models. Learn how HPwES can support your program and help you meet your goals and objectives. Participate in lively peer exchanges and focus groups designed to increase organizational efficiency and production. Stayed tuned for times, location, and how to register. See you in Austin!

In September, we unveiled the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Certificate of Completion Template for Sponsors to document home performance work for homeowners and real estate professionals, and other stakeholders. This co-brandable, customizable tool is a value-add for Sponsors, participating contractors, and homeowners. This certificate is an important tool in efforts to link energy efficiency to real estate. A newly released Better Buildings white paper lists this certificate as one of the first steps towards valuating energy efficiency in the real estate transactions. Standardized, nationally-recognized documentation of energy efficiency improvements is something every program needs for real estate integration. It is appealing to real estate professionals too; the third party verification requirement lifts liability from their shoulders.    

This year we also added a new recognition opportunity for participating contractors: The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year Award. This new award is aligned with the ENERGY STAR Awards process; each year the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency recognize leaders in energy efficiency at the ENERGY STAR Awards Ceremony in Washington DC. DOE will also be holding a special recognition opportunity during the ACI National Home Performance Conference in Austin, TX. The new award is open to all HPwES participating contractors. More information is available below about award requirements and the application itself.

We’ve also reignited our partnership with Building America to better connect contractors with the technical information they need to produce high quality work. Below is the first output of the partnership – an outline of available resources on combustion safety.

Back to top

Apply now for the ENERGY STAR Awards!

Tomorrow is the deadline to apply for the ENERGY STAR Awards!

This year, for the first time, HPwES Sponsors, HPwES participating contractors, and HPwES advocates can apply for ENERGY STAR Awards. As before, Sponsors and other ENERGY STAR Partners have access to the Partner of the Year and Excellence in Promotion Awards, but now participating contractors can apply – a new award was created especially for them: the ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year Award. Categories and criteria are listed below, or visit the awards page for more info.

ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year

Participating contractors can now participate in the ENERGY STAR Awards with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year Award.  This award is designed for contractors that have integrated HPwES into their services and whose success is a result of innovation. The application outlines Customer Relations, Sales and Marketing, High Energy Savings, and Industry Leadership as the criteria for which applicants will be evaluated.  DOE will continue with the Century Club Contractor Award to recognize participating contractors who achieve project production totals of a 100 or more projects in a year.

ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year

Sponsors should consider applying for the the ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award. This award is presented for outstanding ENERGY STAR program delivery. Previous winners were recognized for implementation of HPXML, real estate integration and training, robust contractor training, and conversion ratios, among other achievements. This prestigious award is presented to leaders in energy efficiency. Organizations that continuously win Partner of the Year are presented with Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence.

ENERGY STAR Excellence in Promotion Award

Organizations, including HPwES Sponsors that execute successful marketing and consumer education campaigns can apply for the ENERGY STAR Excellence in Promotion Award. Last year Columbia Association won the Excellence in Promotion Award for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR campaigns and the support they provide to community members during Hone Performance with ENERGY STAR projects.

ENERGY STAR Award winners are allowed unique opportunities to differentiate themselves for their achievements. Winners are celebrated at the annual ENERGY STAR Awards Ceremony in Washington DC on April 13th. DOE will also celebrate the ENERGY STAR Contractor of the Year winners among their peers at ACI in Austin TX April 4th-7th.  Winners also receive an ENERGY STAR Awards promotional mark to set themselves apart. And Winners also receive public relations support from ENERGY STAR to broadcast the news about their accomplishments. .

Use your My ENERGY STAR Account (MESA) to access the applications and submit your forms. If there are any questions or concerns about the process, reach out to

Back to top

Q2 Results Are In!

Our Sponsors and participating contractors have delivered another strong quarter for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. 20,629 projects were completed from April to June this year. These results are consistent with previous years’ second quarters; for the last four years about 20,000 projects were reported in Q2. Year-over-year quarterly comparisons are the most appropriate way for HPwES to measure growth because quarters can approximate seasons. Weather influences the popularity of home performance – homeowners are likely to seek out HPwES projects when the weather changes and they notice they are uncomfortable in their homes.

The HPwES high-volume Sponsors have continued to drive success; the 10 highest producing Sponsors represent over 80% of the completed projects. The consistently high performers, including NYSERDA, Mass Save, and New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program, again delivered thousands of projects. The second quarter was another impressive quarter for Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Relative to 14Q2, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma project count grew by nearly 120%. Another Sponsor with notable growth is Energize Delaware – they reported over 1000% growth in completed projects.

Review the HPwES Project Dashboards for more information.

Back to top

Southern California Gas Company becomes a HPwES Sponsor

HPwES is pleased to welcome the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) as our newest Sponsor!  We look forward to learning a lot from thier leadership and implementation strategy in California.  

SoCalGas has been delivering clean, safe and reliable natural gas to its customers for more than 140 years. It is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, providing energy to 21.4 million consumers through 5.9 million meters in more than 500 communities. The company’s service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles in diverse terrain throughout Central and Southern California, from Visalia to the Mexican border. SoCalGas is a regulated subsidiary of Sempra Energy.  SoCalGas Energy Upgrade California Home Upgrade program offers incentives for whole house upgrades to all municipalities that share service territory with SoCalGas. As of October 21, they have completed 1,384 Home Upgrade and Advance Home Upgrade projects. For more information on SoCalGas, please visit their website.

Back to top

Better Buildings White Paper: How Energy Efficiency Programs Can Help Capture Efficiency in Real Estate Transactions

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a new white paper highlighting how residential energy efficiency programs can help make homes’ energy efficiency visible to appraisers, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, homebuyers and sellers.

Multiple studies in recent years have indicated that energy efficiency is an important consideration for homebuyers. In fact, energy efficient homes sell for a premium in some regions of the United States. The home sale process, however, frequently fails to account for the value of high performance home features. Only when investments in energy efficiency are more accurately reflected in home resale prices will  homeowners be confident that efficiency investments will be recouped at resale.

Prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the white paper provides examples of programs around the U.S. that are successfully engaging the real estate community and overcoming barriers to valuing energy efficiency in the home resale process.  The research draws on literature and interviews with efficiency program staff and real estate professionals.

Energy efficiency programs already capture data needed to make efficiency more visible in real estate transactions. Program administrators can make sure this information is transmitted to the people who need it in formats they can use and understand. A number of programs, highlighted in the paper, have already begun to close the energy information gap through one or more of the following efforts:

  • Issuing a home energy rating or score to program participants: provides standardized approach to documenting a home’s performance that can easily be indicated in a MLS
  • Issuing certificates that leverage existing national standards: provides trusted third-party verified information that real estate agents prefer
  • Requiring participating contractors and homebuilders to attach stickers documenting a home’s efficiency information to the home’s circuit box: ensures efficiency information stays with the home and can be found by the listing agent when the home is put on the market
  • Working with the local Board of Realtors to establish green fields in the local or regional MLS: provides repository necessary for transmitting homes’ efficiency information to the market
  • Adopting interoperable standards for documenting efficiency data: provides data requirements for energy upgrade or performance certificates and integrates with established real estate valuation tools

The Better Buildings Home Energy Information Accelerator, launched earlier this year, brings together real estate and efficiency partners to build on these efforts, address challenges raised in the paper, and facilitate improved access to and use of energy information in real estate transactions.

Back to top

Building America - Solutions for Combustion Safety in Existing Homes

It is often challenging for residential contractors to conduct appropriate combustion safety test procedures in existing homes and use effective actions to address failures. Commonly used testing methods can be complicated to follow and may be overly conservative, producing false positive results without addressing the fundamental need for inspection of the venting system itself. Additionally, there are situations where comprehensive combustion safety tests are not necessary and prescriptive procedures can be used to address safety concerns. Methods to easily identify those situations and conduct the required actions may reduce test costs and provide a higher level of confidence that contractors are following the proper procedures to protect against combustion safety failures.

For these reasons, Building America developed two complementary guidelines and a field study supporting revised protocols for combustion safety testing in low-rise residential buildings.

These guidelines address:

Buildings that have or can have an isolated combustion appliance zone:

Measure Guideline: Combustion Safety for Natural Draft Appliances Through Appliance Zone Isolation  

This situation allows for combustion appliances with draft diverters to be segregated from the living space. This guideline addresses combustion appliances located either within the living space in enclosed closets and side rooms or outside the living space in an adjacent area such as an attic or garage that use outdoor air for combustion and venting. The isolated zone approach is for a subset of houses in which combustion safety issues do not require extensive diagnostics or performance-based protocols.

This subset of houses does not require extensive diagnostics or performance-based protocols. Other conditions that allow retrofit work to proceed without extensive combustion safety diagnostics or performance-based protocols include:

  • Vented combustion appliances are not present.
  • All combustion appliances are depressurization resistant.
  • Extremely leaky houses with little or no potential for depressurization.
  • Tighter house with high depressurization potential so that the only option is replacement of depressurization susceptible appliances with depressurization resistant appliances
  • All vented combustion appliances are located in a space isolated from living space.

Buildings that have appliances and heating equipment in zones that cannot be isolated:

Measure Guideline: Combustion Safety for Natural Draft Appliances Using Indoor Air:

Only natural draft (i.e., nonpositive vent static pressure) gas-fired combustion appliances installed in the living space or in an area freely communicating with the living space, vented alone or in tandem with another appliance are considered in this guideline. This guideline applies to Category I and II appliances only and largely focuses on Category I appliances using atmospheric venting systems that employ a draft hood. This Guideline:

  • Defines the screening protocol in the codes for Category I atmospheric appliance combustion safety
  • Summarizes inspection procedures from codes and building performance guidelines
  • Describes remediation measures, where necessary, including some illustrative examples.

Combustion Safety Simplified Test Protocol Field Study:

This study provides an evaluation of combustion appliance zone depressurization tests and offers a recommended alternative approach to the most commonly applied “worst case” testing procedures. These procedures provide the basis for the combustion safety tests included in the recently adopted ANSI/BPI-1200-S-2015 “Standard Practice for Basic Analysis of Buildings”

These guidelines, together with specific information presented in the Building America Solution Center, the Weatherization Program, and others, are intended to help residential contractors effectively address combustion safety issues.

On Wednesday, December 16th, Building America will host a Combustion Safety Solutions webinar from 3:00-4:30 pm ET. Register for the webinar now.

For more information on technical solutions for upgrading existing homes, visit the Building America Solution Center.

Back to top

The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Team
EERE logo

Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Home Performance Events: