Log in or register to create Field Kits and Sales Worksheets. Why register?

Home Improvement Expert™ Checklists

Home Improvement Expert™ is an easy way to get a quality job.

Proper installation of all home improvements related to energy efficiency is critical but often a significant challenge for homeowners. Research findings reveal significantly reduced energy savings and potential performance risks where home improvements are not properly installed. Now the U.S. Department of Energy has a tool that homeowners can use to help ensure quality installation. Home Improvement Expert fact sheets and checklists compile best practices from industry leaders and national laboratories for twenty-one home improvements related to energy efficiency. 

All homeowners have to do to hold projects accountable to these standards for excellence is include one or more of the appropriate checklists in their vendor contracts. In doing so, homeowners will act in their best self-interest to optimize energy efficiency, comfort, health, durability, and safety.

Find all of the Home Improvement Expert fact sheets and checklists below and click to download them for your next home improvement project.

Enclosure Upgrades

Many home have inadequate insulation and excessive holes, cracks, and missing air barriers resulting in unwanted heat loss in cold weather, heat gain in hot weather, and infiltration of moisture, dust, pollen, and pests year-round. Air sealing leaks and adding insulation between the attic and the home is one of the most cost-effective measures to improve your home’s energy performance. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible with quality installed attic air sealing and insulation.
Many home basements do not have adequate wall insulation resulting in excessive heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer along with seasonally cold surface temperatures that can compromise comfort and moisture control. Adding basement insulation can significantly address these home performance challenges. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and durability benefits possible with quality installed basement wall insulation.
Many home walls have inadequate insulation resulting in excessive heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Adding wall insulation can significantly address this home performance challenge. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings and enhanced comfort benefits possible with quality installed framed wall insulation.
Many home walls have inadequate insulation resulting in excessive heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. Adding wall insulation can significantly address this home performance challenge. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. In particular, the traditional exterior “drill and fill” approach will not work with masonry brick or concrete walls. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings and enhanced comfort benefits possible with quality installed masonry wall insulation.
Many homes have excessive holes, cracks, and missing air barriers resulting in unwanted heat loss in cold weather, heat gain in hot weather, and infiltration of moisture, dust, pollen, and pests year-round. Air sealing is often one of the most cost-effective measures you can take to improve your home’s performance. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible from quality installed home air sealing.
Many homes have vented attics that get very hot in summer and cold in winter. Converting an attic from vented to an unvented provides an opportunity to create a temperate space for heating and cooling equipment located there to operate more efficiently while also reducing infiltration of moisture, dust, pollen and pests year-round. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible from a quality installed unvented attic.
Where homes have crawl spaces, they are commonly unvented allowing excessive heat in summer, cold in winter, and humidity year-round. Converting a crawl space from vented to unvented provides an opportunity to create a temperate space for heating and cooling equipment located there to operate more efficiently while also reducing the infiltration of moisture, dust, pollen, pests, and soil gases year-round. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible from a quality installed unvented crawl space.
Many home windows are inefficient and installed without sealing the air gap around the framed opening and flashing to avoid water penetration. Homeowners replacing windows must decide between a full-frame window replacement that includes sealing the air gap and adding flashing, or the much more common practice of minimizing replacement window cost by installing within the existing frame without sealing the air gap and adding flashing. Critical installation best practices need to be followed with either choice to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and durability benefits possible with window replacement.

Heating & Cooling

Nearly half of all heating and cooling systems in U.S. homes are not installed to manufacturer’s instructions and therefore perform below rated capacity and efficiency. High-efficiency air conditioners such as variable-speed systems are much more efficient, last longer, and can remove more moisture. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible from a quality installed air conditioner replacement.
Nearly half of all heating and cooling systems in U.S. homes are not installed to manufacturer’s instructions and therefore perform below rated capacity and efficiency. In addition, older gas furnaces have low efficiency and use natural draft exhaust with the potential to back draft or spill combustion gases. High-efficiency gas furnaces such as two-stage and modulating systems are much more efficient, last longer, and include ducted supply and exhaust air that cannot backdraft combustion gases. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and safety benefits possible from a quality installed gas furnace replacement.
Nearly half of all heating and cooling systems in U.S. homes are not installed to manufacturer’s instructions and therefore perform below rated capacity and efficiency. In addition, older heat pumps have low efficiency. High-efficiency heat pumps such as variable-speed systems are much more efficient, last longer, and can remove more moisture. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and health benefits possible from a quality installed heat pump replacement.
Nearly half of all heating and cooling systems in U.S. homes are not installed to manufacturer’s instructions and therefore perform below rated capacity and efficiency. In addition, older oil and gas boilers have low efficiency and use natural draft exhaust with the potential to back draft or spill combustion gases. High-efficiency sealed-combustion direct-vent oil and gas boilers have efficiencies exceeding 90% and include ducted exhaust and supply air that cannot backdraft combustion gases. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, and safety benefits possible from a quality installed oil or gas boiler replacement.
In many homes, heating and cooling ducts are not properly sealed and insulated which can reduce utility bills up to 20%, cause uneven temperatures throughout the home, and provide a pathway for moisture, dust, pollen, and pests. Duct sealing and insulation is often one of the most cost-effective measures you can take to improve your home’s performance. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings, enhanced comfort, health, and durability benefits possible with quality installed duct sealing and insulation.

Fresh Air System

In many homes, bathrooms exhaust fans are missing or very ineffective removing moisture from washing and bathing which can increase the risk of mold and mildew. High-efficiency exhaust fans quietly exhaust bathroom air to the outside, and can operate continuously as a whole-house fresh air system to help dilute moisture, dust, pollen, and particulates inside the home. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant health and durability benefits possible from a quality installed bathroom exhaust fan.
In many homes, kitchen exhaust fans are often missing or very ineffective removing moisture, cooking odors, and fumes directly to outdoors. Kitchen exhaust fans help ensure cooking emissions are effectively captured and exhausted. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant health benefits possible from a quality installed kitchen exhaust fan.
Many homes are missing whole-house fresh air systems that ensure adequate dilution of moisture, dust, pollen, and particulates inside the home. These contaminants can trigger asthma and allergy attacks as well as other health problems. Balanced heat recovery ventilation (HRV) and enthalpy recovery ventilation (ERV) provide an equal amount of supply and exhaust air adequate for effective dilution of contaminants. HRV’s include a heat exchanger to capture heat from exhaust air in the winter and supply air in summer for added efficiency. ERV’s also help remove unwanted outdoor moisture in summer and retain desired indoor moisture in winter for added comfort. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant health and enhanced comfort benefits possible from a quality installed balanced HRV/ERV fresh air system.
Many homes are missing whole-house fresh air systems that ensure adequate dilution of moisture, dust, pollen, and particulates inside the home. These contaminants can trigger asthma and allergy attacks as well as other health problems. Balanced supply plus exhaust fresh air systems provide an equal amount of supply and exhaust air adequate for effective dilution of contaminants. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant health benefits possible from a quality installed balanced supply plus exhaust fresh air system.
Many homes are missing whole-house fresh air systems that ensure adequate dilution of moisture, dust, pollen, and particulates inside the home. These contaminants can trigger asthma and allergy attacks as well as other health problems. Supply integrated with HVAC fresh air systems draw in adequate outdoor air for effective dilution of contaminants through a duct tied into the HVAC system return duct ahead of the filter. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant health benefits possible from a quality installed supply integrated with HVAC fresh air system.

Hot Water Heating

Gas water heaters in many homes have low efficiency and use natural draft exhaust with the potential to back draft or spill combustion gases. High-efficiency gas tank water heaters reduce heat losses with highly insulated tanks, use efficient burners, and have ducted supply and exhaust air that cannot backdraft combustion gases. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings and safety benefits possible from a quality installed gas tank water heater.
Gas water heaters in many homes have low efficiency and use natural draft exhaust with the potential to back draft or spill combustion gases. High-efficiency gas tankless water heaters eliminate heat loss from stored hot water in tank systems, use more efficient burners, have ducted supply and exhaust air that cannot backdraft combustion gases, and can provide an endless supply of hot water. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings and safety benefits possible from a quality installed gas tankless water heater.
Electric resistance water heaters operate very inefficiently. High-efficiency heat pump water heaters reduce heat loss with well-insulated tanks, produce heat up to 60% more efficiently using the refrigerant cycle, and produce cooling and dehumidification that can be beneficial during hot weather. However, critical installation best practices need to be followed to ensure a successful project. Use this checklist to get the significant energy savings benefits possible from a quality installed heat pump water heater.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

  • Look for licensed, insured, and certified contractors.
  • Check references and reviews on home improvement websites.
  • Get multiple bids in writing.
  • Check with your utility and state, local and federal weatherization programs for rebates and incentives.
  • Include the Home Improvement Expert checklist in bids and contracts to ensure quality installation.
  • Consider using a Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater, Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified Building Analyst, or other qualified professional (e.g., licensed engineer or architect) to inspect the work.

Ready to do more?

These factsheets and checklists can be used to help optimize energy savings and improve performance related to comfort, health, safety, and durability.

For more customized home improvement recommendations:

Are you a contractor looking for resources? Visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building America Solution Center at www.basc.energy.gov.