Space Heating & Cooling Initiative


The primary objective of the CEESM 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. A primary strategy of the program industry is achieved by defining and supporting common equipment specifications. Consistent messaging to consumers and contractors on Quality Installation, maintenance, and first versus lifetime costs addresses market barriers common to both efficient heating and cooling systems. The Initiative also promotes equipment that operates efficiently during periods of peak demand and highlights behavior-based savings opportunities.


The Board launched the Residential Space Heating and Cooling Initiative in 2015, replacing the former CEE Residential Central Air-Conditioning and Heat Pump Initiative and the CEE Residential Gas Heating Initiative. By combining the perspectives of electric and gas powered HVAC systems, the Initiative gains a strategic framework that is consistent with the way the market operates. This structure encourages greater coordination among utility programs and industry stakeholders by emphasizing delivered system performance and acknowledging that many consumers purchase an HVAC system that consumes both fuels.

In addition to creating the merged Initiative, CEE finalized and promoted new specification levels for covered equipment. Members also came to agreement on consensus needs for measuring the heating performance of air-source heat pumps. The details were published in a position paper drafted in coordination with the CEE Emerging Technologies Collaborative and vetted with the HVAC industry. In 2016, this position will be shared with federal agencies and standard setting organizations responsible for maintaining heat pump test standards.

A Word about Connected

CEE continues its work with the HVAC and building science industries to define the energy efficiency potential of connected products. The CEE Connected Committee and AHRI, the trade association of HVAC manufacturers, are leveraging a jointly developed framework document—the Demand Response Performance and Communication Specifications for Smart and Connected Variable Capacity Unitary HVAC Equipment—to standardize physical and informational responses for connected residential HVAC products. Building from this framework, and using such capabilities as on-board diagnostics, CEE is defining new savings opportunities originating from connected equipment to engage more deeply with customers and drive behavior-based savings.

HVAC system efficiency depends not just on nameplate rating, but also on 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, 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

Highlighted is the increased availability from 2007 to 2014 of unique combinations of air-conditioning and air source heat pump equipment meeting the CEE tiers. Greater availability and selection of these systems in the market today 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 that expresses 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 or provide incentives for installations that address integrated heating and cooling system efficiency that are verified to achieve 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—Iowa


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—Kentucky

Efficiency Maine

Efficiency Vermont

Energy Trust of Oregon


Focus on Energy—Wisconsin


Gaz Métro

Great Plains Natural Gas

Liberty Utilities—Massachusetts

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

Nicor Gas

NV  Energy

Pacific Gas and Electric Company


Puget Sound Energy

Questar Gas