Space Heating & Cooling Initiative


The primary objective of the Residential Heating and Cooling System Initiative is to drive efficient in-field performance by increasing the uptake and Quality Installation of highly efficient residential HVAC systems. Program administrators employ a consistent messaging strategy to inform consumers and contractors on Quality Installation, maintenance, and first versus lifetime costs. Their consistency has proven effective in addressing market barriers to efficient heating and cooling systems. Common equipment specifications support these messages and identify equipment that operates efficiently during periods of peak demand. The Initiative also promotes and highlights behavioral savings opportunities.


Communicating thermostats represent a new opportunity for reaching Initiative goals. CEE has developed a draft specification for communicating thermostats that includes a performance path and a prescriptive feature path for aggregate energy savings. The specification notes optional load management criteria to augment either of the efficiency paths. This specification, anticipated to be complete in 2017, is intended to provide a credible platform to differentiate thermostats that are most likely to save energy, which will help members achieve energy savings goals, help industry stakeholders gain recognition and leverage CEE’s credibility to differentiate products, and enhance consumer satisfaction.

Initiative members renewed efforts to promote HVAC Quality Installation in a cost-effective manner by working with:

  • EPA to enhance the ENERGY STAR® program
  • DOE to catalog the existing platforms for automated verification of QI
  • CEE members to identify strategies that support quality contractors who already embrace QI as a business strategy

This work ultimately leads to revising the CEE Residential Space Heating and Cooling Initiative with a detailed strategy for members promoting QI in 2017 and beyond.

A Word about Connected

CEE continues its work with the HVAC and building science industries to define the energy efficiency and load management potential of connected systems. The CEE Connected Committee, AHRI (the trade association of HVAC manufacturers) and other industry stakeholders are working together to develop an ANSI standard for connected, variable capacity HVAC systems. The AHRI-ANSI Standard is intended to help define the physical and informational responses for connected residential HVAC products and provide a basis to identify HVAC systems capable of connecting with third parties through open standards.

HVAC system efficiency depends on nameplate rating as well as Quality Installation. Illustrated are some common sources of lost energy in heating and cooling systems: improper refrigerant charge, duct work that is either poorly designed or that lacks appropriate sealing or insulation, and improper sizing of equipment. The Initiative addresses these lost opportunities to benefit customers.

Data Source:
ENERGY STAR Quality Installation, accessed February 4, 2016.

CEE specifications enable member incentive programs to identify and promote the most efficient products in the marketplace. These graphics highlight the growing number of efficient furnaces and boilers available in the marketplace. Data indicate that manufacturers are creating more efficient products. This is a focus encouraged by the efforts of CEE member programs.

Data Source:
CEE Directory of Efficient Equipment,, downloaded annually

Highlights show the increased availability of unique combinations of air-conditioning and air source heat pump equipment meeting the CEE tiers from 2007–2014. Greater availability and selection of these systems in the market comes as a direct result of the CEE Initiative.

Data Source:
CEE Directory of Efficient Equipment,, downloaded annually

How to Participate

Initiative participation is open to individual efficiency organizations. Other Initiative stakeholders have a variety of opportunities to engage in Initiative activities and to:

  • incorporate at least one of the CEE specifications for residential central air conditioners, air source heat pumps, furnaces, or boilers in an educational or incentive program
  • deploy a significant and focused educational or promotional program on the importance of taking an integrated approach to encouraging efficient heating and cooling systems through the identification and marketing of the CEE Quality Installation Specification
  • provide incentives for installations that address integrated heating and cooling system efficiency that are verified as reflecting the CEE Quality Installation Specification

These requirements provide participants with discretion to design programs that optimize effectiveness for local conditions, including whether and how to incentivize.


Alliant Energy


Atmos Energy Corporation

Avista Utilities

Baltimore Gas and Electric Company

Berkshire Gas

Black Hills Energy

City of Palo Alto Utilities

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

Connecticut Natural Gas

Consolidated Edison Company

Consumers Energy

DC Sustainable Energy Utility

DTE Energy

Duke Energy

Efficiency Maine

Efficiency Vermont

Energy Trust of Oregon


Focus on Energy—Wisconsin


Gaz Métro

Great Plains Natural Gas

Liberty Utilities

MidAmerican Energy

Montana-Dakota Utilities

National Grid

New Jersey Clean Energy Program

New Jersey Natural Gas

New Mexico Gas Company

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)

Nicor Gas

NV  Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Puget Sound Energy

Questar Gas