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In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote energy efficiency upgrades in homes and other buildings, through programs such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood ProgramHome Performance with ENERGY STAR, utility-sponsored programs, and others.

The Residential Program Guide is a repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these efforts. It is intended to help program administrators and their partners plan, operate, and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs.

Take a tour of the Residential Program Guide with this demonstration presentation (PDF) and video recording.

This content reflects the expertise and experience of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Residential program as well as program guidance published by a variety of organizations working to improve energy efficiency in residential buildings across the country.

The Residential Program Guide is organized around six primary program components or functions that successful programs consider.

  • Market Position & Business Model – Identify your organization’s optimal market position by understanding existing market actors, gaps, competitors, and potential partners. Develop a business model that will allow you to sustainably deliver energy efficiency products and services.
  • Program Design & Customer Experience – Design a residential energy efficiency program that provides customers with a positive experience by integrating marketing and outreach, contractor coordination, incentives, financing, and program evaluation in a streamlined way.
  • Evaluation & Data Collection – Develop evidence-based insights into your program’s performance through third-party process and impact evaluations. Craft effective data collection strategies and timely evaluations to identify important program achievements as well as opportunities for making improvements.
  • Marketing & Outreach – Spur customer demand for your program’s services by understanding your target audience and motivating them to act using effective messaging, marketing and outreach tactics, and attractive program offers.
  • Financing – Ensure that your program’s customers have access to affordable financing, so they can pay for the products and services you offer.
  • Contractor Engagement & Workforce Development – Engage your most important partners, the workforce that delivers your program’s products and services in customers’ homes. Identify what kinds of support local contractors need to help achieve your program’s goals.

The Residential program Guide’s core content is composed of nearly 60 handbooks.  These handbooks are reference manuals that explain why and how to implement specific stages of a residential energy efficiency program. All content is based on qualitative and quantitative evidence of lessons learned and best practices from energy efficiency programs and was reviewed by third party experts. Links to handbooks are designated by the Image removed. icon.

The U.S. Department of Energy is committed to providing access to our web pages for individuals with disabilities by complying with the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you use assistive technology (such as a Braille reader, a screen reader, TTY, etc.) and the format of any material on the Better Buildings Residential Program Guide interferes with your ability to access the information, please contact us at Please indicate the nature of the accessibility problem you encountered, the preferred format in which to receive the material, the Web address of the requested material, and your contact information.

The U.S. Department of Energy thanks the following individuals who conducted an expert review of the Better Buildings Residential Program Guide handbooks:

  • Glenn Barnes, Environmental Finance Center at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Tom Beierle, Ross Strategic
  • Athena Bertolino, Ross Strategic
  • Megan Billingsley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
  • Jason Bogovich, SRA International, Inc.
  • Lauren Boitel, EnergyFit Nevada
  • Kathleen Brady, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
  • Matthew Brown, Harcourt Brown & Carey
  • Art Cappella, Fayette County, Pennsylvania
  • Dave Carey, Harcourt Brown & Carey
  • Amanda Chiu, Energetics Incorporated
  • Jack Clark, California Center for Sustainable Energy
  • Jonathan Cohen, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Julie de Seve, Conservation Services Group, Inc.
  • Stacy DeGabriele, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
  • Kyle Diesner, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
  • Steve Dunn, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Richard Faesy, Energy Futures Group
  • Rebecca Foster, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • Ashley Fournier, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance
  • Charlie Goff, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
  • Benjamin Goldstein, U.S. Department of Energy
  • David Haeg, Elevate Energy
  • Caroline Hazard, SRA International, Inc.
  • Dale Hoffmeyer, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Julie Hughes, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Andrew Isaacs, SRA International, Inc.
  • Ely Jacobsohn, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Shannon Johnson, Eastern Research Group, Inc.
  • Nikki Kuhn, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
  • David Lee, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Michael Li, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Patrick Macroy, Elevate Energy
  • Courtney Moriarta, SRA International, Inc.
  • Andrew Nicholls, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Todd O’Grady, Michigan Saves
  • Josh Olsen, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Laura Parsons, California Center for Sustainable Energy
  • Melanie Paskevich, Neighborworks of Western Vermont
  • Eleni Pelican, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Darcy Peth, Ross Strategic
  • Kristin Riott, Bridging The Gap
  • Mike Rogers, OmStout Consulting
  • Alice Rosenberg, Consortium for Energy Efficiency
  • Danielle Sass Byrnett, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Terri Schroeder, Michigan Saves
  • Anna Schroen, Michigan Saves
  • Erick Shambarger, Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability & Me2 Program
  • Suzanne Shelton, Shelton Group
  • Stephanie Swanson, Clean Energy Works
  • Mary Templeton, Michigan Saves
  • Jennifer Tice, Ross Strategic
  • Chandler Von Shrader, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Subid Wagley, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Emma Zinsmeister, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


If you have content that you think would be a helpful addition to the Better Buildings Residential Program Guide, or have general comments, questions, or feedback related to your experience using the Guide, we would love to hear from you. Your comments and suggestions will help us determine what to fix, identify information gaps, and find additional resources.

Please see the Resource Submission page for instructions on how to submit content.

Please send your questions and feedback to