U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Getting Started

Whether you are serving a new market where there have been no residential energy efficiency programs in the past or offering new services to complement existing programs, the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center has the information and guidance you need to get started.

The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is a repository for key lessons, resources, and knowledge collected from the experience of these efforts. It helps program administrators and their partners plan, operate, and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs. Take a tour of the Solution Center with this demonstration presentation and video recording.

Program Components: Primary Functions of Successful Programs

The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is organized around the six primary functions that all successful programs consider. Your organization might not handle each of these on its own, but will need to identify resources and partners to ensure each is addressed.

  • 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.

You will see these icons referenced in the Solution Center:

Program Components



Program Design Phases: Stages of Designing & Implementing a Program

The four program design phases below provide a framework for designing and implementing a successful residential energy efficiency program. These are not necessarily sequential and can be considered concurrently. Designing an effective program is often an iterative process of revisiting several stages in order to establish a program, while continuing to refine your design to achieve your program’s goals.

Strategy Development         

  • Assess existing market conditions to decide which customers your program will focus on and the products and services you can provide, to create a program that resonates with your community.
  • Define program goals and objectives that encompass marketing, financing, contractor engagement, and workforce development activities.
  • Identify and involve partners that can help you administer and deliver your program. Partners can help with marketing, energy assessments, financing, rebates and other incentives, home energy upgrades, quality assurance, and others.
  • Design the program that will serve your customers’ needs and meet your program’s goals and objectives.



  • Develop program resources that will help you implement your program, create a positive customer experience, and interact effectively with your partners (e.g., lenders and contractors).
  • Deliver your program in a coordinated effort to meet the needs of your customers and partners and to achieve your program’s goals.


The Residential Program Solution Center includes detailed guidance, templates, tools, and examples for each step and program component to help you establish or refine a residential energy efficiency program.

You will see these icons referenced in the Solution Center:

Program Design Phases


Handbooks: Guidance & Examples

The Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center is composed of nearly 60 handbooks.  A handbook is a reference manual that explains why and how to implement specific stages of a residential energy efficiency program. Links to handbooks are designated by the Handbook icon icon.

Each handbook contains a series of tabs that allows users to quickly identify the type of information and resources they are looking for. The tabs are:


Tips for Success: Lessons from Successful Programs

In recent years, hundreds of communities have been working to promote home energy upgrades through programs such as the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®, utility-sponsored programs, and others. See the Tips for Success in each handbook or download the handouts below to get started on learning from these programs.

Download Lessons Learned handouts:


Customize Your Solution Center Content

Residential Program Solution Center users have the option to register to create a personal user account.  Click “Register” in the upper right corner of the Solution Center and fill out the account information.  By creating a user account, you can enhance and customize your use of the tool. Registered users can:

  • Save handbooks and other materials in their customizable “My Favorites” folders. Look for the Heart icon icon to quickly add content you want to save.
  • Subscribe to email updates about Solution Center content. Look for the “Subscriptions” tab in your user account to manage your subscription preferences.
Close All


If you have content that you think would be a helpful addition to the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center, or have general comments, questions, or feedback related to your experience using the Solution Center, 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 us at BBRPSolutionCenter@ee.doe.gov.