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

How do I ensure quality upgrades to avoid call-backs and enhance our reputation?

Customers put a high value on quality home improvements, and satisfied customers are more likely to tell friends and family about their experience, which can lead more participation in your program. Conversely, dissatisfied customers can dissuade neighbors and peers from participating, thereby making acquisition of new customers more challenging and expensive. Managing quality starts with managing your relationship with  participating contractors.  Many programs organize an orientation not only to explain the program requirements (e.g., workforce standards, quality assurance process, and code of conduct) but also to learn about each contractor’s skills and experience.  That information can you connect them with needed training (e.g., technical, business, or sales). 

Developing a quality assurance plan is essential to ensure that you meet your quality goals including providing good customer service in a cost-effective way.  Most plans include verifying a consistent level of quality in completed home energy upgrades. Programs have used different approaches to verifying quality.  One common approach uses a tiered approach, in which the program inspects the first several upgrades completed by a new participating contractor and then changes the inspections to a random sample after the contractor has demonstrated proficiency.  More programs are finding that clearly defined and easily accessible technical specifications can remove ambiguity around program expectations and improve completed upgrade work. Quality assurance plans may also include customer satisfaction surveys to assess customer experience.


Learn more with the following Solution Center resources:

Topical Resources

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2014

    This guide assists with developing an implementation plan for a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. It covers key elements of the plan, including the scope and objectives of the program and the policies and procedures that will ensure its success, including co-marketing and brand guidelines (section 1), workforce development and contractor engagement (section 3), assessment and report requirements (section 4), installation specifications and test-out procedures (section 5), and quality assurance (section 6).

  • Author: National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    Publication Date: 2012

    These standard work specifications define minimum requirements for upgrade work and can be used as an industry guide for workers, training instructors, and program administrators involved in the home performance industry.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    This publication includes best practices for how to create a quality assurance plan and the key components that these plans should include.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2016

    This summary from a Better Buildings Residential Network peer exchange call focused on quality assurance of energy efficiency services.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2014

    This summary from a Better Buildings Residential Network peer exchange call focused on quality assurance and control, standardization of upgrades and workforce expectations.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    This peer exchange call summary focused on the challenges and effective combinations of quality assurance strategies.

  • Quality Assurance for Residential Retrofit Programs
    Author: Jim Grevatt, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation
    Publication Date: 2010
    Presentation, Media
    (44 MB)
    , Transcript

    This DOE Technical Assistance Program webcast covers why quality assurance is important for residential upgrade programs, how to define realistic goals, and the key elements of a QA program.

Examples

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2016

    This case study of Arizona Public Service (APS) and Arizona’s HPwES Sponsor, FSL Home Energy Solutions (FSL), focuses on their continuous improvements designed to elevate customer and contractor experience while boosting program cost-effectiveness.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2012

    This video explains how Better Buildings for Michigan's performance metrics and quality assurance enabled them to encourage high-performing contractors, to help underperforming contractors improve, and ultimately to dismiss some contractors.

  • Author: U.S. Department of Energy
    Publication Date: 2011

    This case study discusses the strategies Clean Energy Works Oregon's (now Enhabit's) used to actively engage contractors to make the program successful (e.g., balancing contractors' work priorities, enforcing quality standards).

  • Author: RePower Kitsap
    Publication Date: 2013

    RePower in Bainbridge Island and Bremerton, Washington developed this manual as a set of rules and requirements for acceptable materials and installation procedures for energy efficiency measures installed in existing homes.

  • Author: RePower Program
    Publication Date: 2011

    This document details the procedures for identifying, documenting, and responding to performance problems associated with contractors in the RePower Program in Washington. It includes example forms and a draft letter to contractors.

  • Author: Efficiency Maine
    Publication Date: 2012

    Efficiency Maine created a code of conduct for contractors to follow when working in homes. The code is available for download on the Efficiency Maine website, and dictates guidelines for respecting homeowners' property and communicating with the homeowner about appropriate information. Users on the Efficiency Maine website can search a list of vendors that have agreed to follow the code.

  • Author: New Jersey Clean Energy
    Publication Date: 2014

    This presentation provides an overview of New Jersey Clean Energy's approach to contractor engagement, including contractor participation requirements, procedures for quality assurance and quality control, production incentives, training procedures, and an online contractor portal.

  • Author: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
    Publication Date: 2012

    This section of NYSERDA's Home Performance Contractor Resource Guide describes quality control procedures for initial review, field inspection, and administrative review of projects. Supporting worksheets are available to assist with compliance and verification.

  • Author: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
    Publication Date: 2010

    Two visual flow charts, one that illustrates the process starting with customer interest to final incentive payment, and another that illustrates the program's quality assurance process.

Handbooks

Last Updated: 
August 9, 2017