Checklist for Energy Efficiency


  • Certified ENERGY STAR Home or Zero-Energy Ready Home

Design for the Climate

Landscaping for energy savings and comfort:

  • Deciduous trees shade W, SW, E and SE sides of house
  • Large shrubs or trellis with vines on W side
  • Ground cover, mulch near house to reduce reflected heat
  • Little unshaded pavement near house, none under windows
  • Evergreen shrubs and trees grouped as windbreak on N side

Overall house design:

  • Compact building layout to minimize total surface area
  • Open planning, min. corridor area (space-efficient design)
  • Kitchen, laundry rooms are not on W side
  • Living areas, kitchen have N or S windows
  • Porches, patios, etc. on N & S sides (unconditioned living space)

House design elements to minimize solar heat gain:

  • More wall area faces within 20° of due S and N
  • W facing glass < 2% of floor area
  • E facing glass < 3% of floor area
  • 2-ft. or larger overhangs
  • All W, E and S glass shaded
  • Garage/carport on W or E side (blocking sun)
  • No skylights (except light tubes)
  • Reflective roofing (min. 0.25 solar reflectance)
  • Light color brick or siding

Design elements for passive solar winter benefits:

  • S overhangs sized or louvered for summer shade and winter sun
  • Thermal mass flooring along S glass
  • S facing sunroom with mass floor, walls

House design elements for mild seasons:

  • Operable windows placed for cross ventilation
  • Porch open on three sides or in breezeway


  • ENERGY STAR or NFRC labeled windows rated:
    • < 0.25 SHGC (solar heat gain) in zones 1 & 2 (southern), or
    • < 0.40 U-factor (heat conduction) in climate zones 1 & 2, or < 0.30 in zone 3
    • > 0.50 VT preferred (visible light transmittance)
  • All W and E glass has < 0.25 SHGC or shade screens
  • If passive solar, high solar gain low-e S-facing glass
  • For day lighting, 0.70 VT on N and S if shaded

Tight Construction (Air Sealing)

Continuous air barrier around conditioned space via:

  • Exterior air barrier
  • Airtight Drywall Approach interior air barrier
  • Sealed, airtight floor system
  • All hidden bypasses sealed from attic and crawl space
  • Bottom plate of exterior walls sealed to foundation
  • Band joists between floors sealed
  • All penetrations in building envelope sealed
  • Airtight electrical boxes (or sealed by hand)
  • Low infiltration windows and doors
  • Fireplace: sealed from attic, outside air duct, tight damper, glass doors
  • Weather-stripped, insulated attic access (or in unconditioned area)
  • No recessed lights, or only ICAT used
  • Tight dampers, sealed housings on exhaust and inlet vents (exhaust not vented into attic)

Insulation Systems with Good "Whole Wall" R-Values (Continuous insulation surrounding all conditioned space, except slab floor.)

Recommended insulation material R-values:

  • Attic: R 30-60 in climate zone 2; R 38-60 in climate zone 3
  • Cathedral ceiling: R 30 in zone 2; R 38 in zone 3
  • Unvented, conditioned attic (such as spray foam under roof or insulated roof): > R 21
  • Wood frame walls: R 13-20 in climate zone 2; R 15-20 in zone 3
  • Concrete or masonry walls: R 13-20
  • Band joist between levels: R 13-20
  • Floor over unconditioned space: R 13-19 in climate zone 2; R 19-25 in zone 3
  • Steel frame: R 19-32 walls (must have exterior insulating sheathing); R-49 attic, R 19-25 floor

Elements of insulation system:

  • Insulation installed without gaps, voids and compressions
  • Radiant barrier under roof decking (if A/C ducts in attic and non-reflective roofing)
  • Building system with continuous insulation coverage
  • Insulation type with extra advantages (see more info in manual or online articles)
  • Roof framing for full insulation above exterior walls
  • Insulated window and door headers
  • Insulated corners and T-wall intersections
  • Insulated, air tight attic access door (R 30)
  • All insulated doors (R 5-15)
  • All glass low-e insulated; nonconductive framing

HVAC -- Efficient Cooling and Heating

Energy Star labeled cooling and heating equipment:

  • Air conditioner: > SEER 15 matched system
  • Gas furnace: > AFUE 90%
  • Heat Pump (air source): > SEER 15 & HSPF 8.5
  • Geothermal closed loop heat pump: > EER 17.1 + COP 3.6
  • Equipment is performance tested

Alternatives with special advantages:

    • Geothermal heat pump with water heating
    • Variable speed air conditioner or heat pump
    • Integrated gas space and water heating system
  • Manual J sizing (not oversized) and Manual S equipment selection (to meet humidity load
  • Sensible Heat Ratio < 0.70 SHR (min. 30% dehumidification)
  • Zoned heating/cooling (zone control system or multiple units)
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Outdoor thermostat on heat pump
  • Heat pump has gas back-up heat
  • Compressor on N or E side of house
  • Ducts and air handler (AH) within conditioned space (inside building insulation “envelope”):
  • In sealed soffit or dropped ceiling, AH in closet
  • Or, in insulated, sealed enclosure above ceiling
  • Or, encased in spray foam above ceiling
  • Or, in unvented, conditioned attic (code compliant insulation at roofline, not attic floor)
  • Supply ducts, AH, all connections sealed with mastic
  • Duct insulation (R-8 if not in conditioned space)
  • Sealed return plenum or duct
  • Manual D duct and return design
  • Airflow measured and balanced with air flow hood
  • Central supply trunk (not octopus layout)
  • Duct runs and registers not extended to exterior walls
  • Air returns, transfer grilles or transoms for all BR’s
  • Tested duct leakage < 5% to outside (min. 8%)

Other efficient HVAC equipment (see Healthy/IAQ for Ventilation)

  • ENERGY STAR dehumidifier (if needed)
  • ENERGY STAR ceiling fans in often-used areas
  • ENERGY STAR quiet exhaust fans (< 1.5 sones)

Appliances with Low Life-Cycle Cost

  • ENERGY STAR refrigerator, clothes washer, dishwasher
  • ENERGY STAR electronics
  • Efficient dryer, oven, etc. (see EnergyGuide labels)
  • If well or pool present, efficient variable speed pump

Efficient water heating system options:

    • Integrated with geothermal heat pump
    • Heat recovery unit on air conditioner compressor
    • Solar water heater, certified
    • Heat pump water heater, EF > 2.0
    • Tankless gas water heater, EF > 0.90
    • > 0.67 EF small gas water heater, 0.77 > 55 gal.
  • Insulated hot water pipes and tank
  • Central location of water heater
  • Efficient piping layout, sizing for hot water

Lighting with Fewer Watts and Less Heat

  • high color low wattage lighting throughout house
    • fluorescent tubes, electronic ballast in attractive built-ins
    • EnergyStar fixtures
    • compact fluorescent lamps in standard fixtures
    • LED lamps in standard fixtures
  • high efficiency outdoor lighting
    • photovoltaic solar lights
    • outdoor fluorescents
    • high pressure sodium or metal halide
  • controlled, diffuse daylighting
    • 0.8 VT N and shaded S glass
    • If skylights, tubular type only
  • light color scheme interiors
  • motion or photo sensors

1/30/2019 8:38:25 PM
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