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

Quick Links Results

When it comes to making home energy upgrades feasible financially, ensuring that homeowners understand their financing options is important for converting interest into action. Financing, however, can be a complicated topic, and many programs struggle with communicating its value. Many Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners found success by speaking about financing in ways that resonate with homeowners. Many successful programs have refined their financing messages, focusing on those...

One of the hurdles that many homeowners face when considering home energy upgrades is how to pay for them.  Contractors, as program partners who work with homeowners face-to-face, are in a unique position to help them address this concern by suggesting financing offered through the program. Many residential energy efficiency programs have found that training contractors on available energy upgrade financing products fosters greater understanding and uptake of those loan products. Working...

A comprehensive evaluation of more than 40 residential energy efficiency programs across the country found that programs were more successful when they provided customers with lists of pre-approved contractors. Customers can become overwhelmed when there are too many choices, and they need information to determine which contractors are qualified to do their home energy upgrade. To help customers distinguish among contractors and select the best for their project, many programs provide...

To develop strong and lasting partnerships, residential energy efficiency programs and their partners have identified shared goals and ways for partners to enjoy mutual benefits and advance each other’s missions. Robust partnerships take time to develop, and it helps to establish regular, consistent communication with partners by serving on steering committees or with stakeholder groups that meet regularly. Read more about how these strategies worked in the Better Buildings Residential...

Residential energy efficiency programs across the United States have found that providing homeowners with a single point of contact increases the likelihood of an upgrade being completed and increases customer satisfaction levels. Often called an energy advisor or energy coach, this professional assists the homeowner through every step of the upgrade process and can provide a variety of services to help customers overcome the traditional barriers to completing a home energy upgrade. ...

Paid advertising is one way to promote residential energy efficiency program offerings, but good public relations that leads to “earned” media stories is even better. Successful programs have found that earned media attention can add credibility to marketing efforts and expand their reach. One strategy is to tell interesting home improvement stories on local television or radio stations. Some programs have held visually oriented press events to show consumers the benefits of a...

To monitor progress toward program goals, successful residential energy efficiency programs have used a combination of project tracking systems, customer surveys, information from call centers, and feedback from contractors and other partners. By measuring performance at key points in the upgrade process, program administrators have been able to identify succuessful strategies, detect problems, and better understand which processes are working and which are not, allowing them to make...

Successful residential energy efficiency programs find that timely follow-up after an outreach push can help convert leads into customers. After customers receive an energy assessment, contacting them via phone or email can also boost the number of upgrades completed. ...

Residential energy efficiency programs striving to improve conversion rates from customer interest to completed upgrades have realized that contractors are typically the primary link between customers and their programs. Many successful programs have empowered contractors to promote program services through sales training and co-marketing. A comprehensive evaluation of over 140 programs across the United States found that successful programs have contractors who are skilled at helping...

Most residential energy efficiency programs eventually find themselves asking, how can we jump-start our outreach to get better results? Successful programs across the United States have used in-home events to make upgrade benefits visible by showcasing completed projects and actual results. Attending tours of upgraded homes—especially the homes of trusted neighbors and friends—allows potential customers to see and hear firsthand from satisfied customers, talk directly to the...

Piquing customers’ interest in an energy-efficient home is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to encouraging upgrades. Many programs struggle to reach their upgrade goals because they allow initially excited customers to lose interest. By incentivizing specific actions for homeowners to take, however, program administrators can motivate customers to undertake upgrades. Successful residential energy efficiency programs have found that incentivizing specific actions or energy...

Successful residential energy efficiency programs use data collection, transfer, and storage systems to effectively implement activities and track program metrics. While systems based on simple spreadsheets can be easy to develop, such systems may not be suitable as program scale increases. Programs across the country have found immense value from investing the time and resources required to create an information technology (IT) system to regularly monitor progress and automate time-intensive...

Successful residential energy efficiency programs strive to set requirements for high-quality home energy upgrades and streamline processes to facilitate contractor participation. Balancing these two essential elements can minimize the burden on contractors and help the program maintain a consistent pool of qualified professionals. Satisfied contractors are a key to satisfied customers and successful programs. ...

With all the other things that compete for homeowners’ time and attention, programs that simplify the upgrade process for customers and streamline processes are the ones that get results. Programs can encourage and motivate action by making participation straightforward and easy and providing energy advisors to walk customers through the process. ...

Energy upgrades can make homes safer and reduce residents’ health risks. Because energy efficiency programs help improve residents’ quality of life, their missions are consistent with other organizations focused on public health, low-income housing, or local economic development. Following is a sample of how successful residential energy efficiency programs have leveraged the complementary benefits of energy efficiency to create new partnership opportunities and funding sources....

Local financial institutions can be valuable partners to residential energy efficiency programs. They not only can introduce their customers to your program’s services, but also enable customers to pursue larger home energy upgrades by providing financing. To promote loan products crafted for residential customers, programs and their lending partners have co-marketed loan products and upgrades. As a trusted source of information, local lenders may also receive homeowner questions about...

A comprehensive evaluation of over 140 programs across the United States found that more successful residential energy efficiency programs offered multiple training opportunities to contractors, either by delivering training or engaging with local partners to offer training. Providing access to technical, sales, and program training can enhance assessment quality, improve sales, increase the rate of conversion from assessment to upgrade, improve quality control, and contribute to more...

Looking to appeal to a broader range of diverse residential energy efficiency customers? Consider offering a select number of program options with different levels of cost and complexity. According to a comprehensive evaluation of more than 140 programs across the United States, programs that offer several paths for customers to upgrade their homes were found to have greater participation and to generate higher energy savings. ...

Just as no two houses are the same, homeowners have different upgrade needs, time constraints, and budgets. A comprehensive evaluation of more than 140 residential energy efficiency programs across the United States found that successful programs offered participants more than one option for home energy assessments. Some have found that more comprehensive assessments can motivate customers to undertake deeper energy upgrades. For others, low-cost, less time-intensive assessments can attract...

Once home energy upgrades are underway, energy efficiency programs want to avoid call-backs and enhance their reputation. Because the quality of work that affiliated contractors conduct in customers’ homes reflects on the whole program, it’s important to ensure quality work; however, verifying a consistent level of quality can be challenging. Better Buildings Neighborhood Program partners and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Sponsors have found that having a clear process for...

Everyone likes to be recognized for their achievements; it motivates us to continue working hard. Likewise, contractors appreciate being recognized for their home performance accomplishments. Successful residential energy efficiency programs have found that giving awards for good contractor performance can help build trust, strengthen partnerships, and boost workforce morale. ...

Successful residential energy efficiency programs repeat messages often to inform potential participants about program offerings. As marketing gurus note, most people need to be exposed to a message at least three times times and on separate occasions before taking action. The more time between communications, the less likely the customer will follow up on your program offerings. Some programs achieved repetition by coordinating their marketing strategies with partners; potential customers...

Some residential energy efficiency programs seek to raise credibility with their target audience, so they turn to “social modeling” techniques with satisfied customers. Social modeling is the process by which program participants demonstrate or indicate that they personally engage in a desired behavior. Using this approach, successful residential energy efficiency programs have found that encouraging word-of-mouth outreach by satisfied customers can help attract more homeowners to...

The upfront cost of an energy upgrade can derail homeowners interested in home performance improvements.  One program strategy for making projects more affordable is to offer financing; however, complicated loan application and approval processes can cause delays. Streamlining the loan application process is an effective way to remove this process barrier. By reducing the number of requirements that homeowners must meet to secure a loan, and by accelerating loan application processing,...

Residential energy efficiency programs have found their marketing efforts are more successful when they craft their messaging to resonate with specific customer needs. A comprehensive evaluation of more than 140 programs across the United States found that programs had greater success when they identified and segmented primary target audiences within their target area and tailored outreach to those populations. ...

Financing allows homeowners to pay for energy improvements over time and invest in higher-cost upgrades than they might be able to afford without it. Some programs offer tiered financing or rebates to encourage upgrades with deeper savings, with terms that grow more favorable as more energy saving measures are pursued. Tiered financing can encourage customers to pursue more ambitious projects. ...

Financial incentives—from rebates to lower interest rates—can help residential energy efficiency programs attract customers’ attention. Deadlines can create a sense of urgency and motivate homeowners to action on home energy upgrades. Many programs successfully established time limits on financial incentives and saw participation dramatically increase. ...