Smart Tools for Efficient HVAC Performance Campaign

Working in partnership to help ensure high-performance heat pumps operate efficiently and maintain optimal performance over time, reducing contractor callbacks and delivering comfort, energy savings, and low carbon heating to homeowners.

*This campaign was previously referred to as the Residential HVAC Smart Diagnostic Tools Campaign

Residential HVAC Smart Diagnostic Tools

(Photo courtesy of Walt Hunt | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a new campaign that promotes the use of smart diagnostic tools that allow HVAC contractors to quickly and easily commission new HVAC systems and identify faults in existing systems. Although automatic fault detection and diagnostics equipment is available today, it is offered only in a limited number of high-end products that aren’t yet cost-effective for most residential homeowners. Smart Diagnostic Tools address the system performance issue at a much lower cost.

The Smart Tools for Efficient HVAC Performance (STEP) Campaign will serve as a national platform for sharing information and recognizing successes with key stakeholders, including HVAC contractors and installers, energy-efficiency programs, equipment developers, trainers, and others.

Space heating and cooling systems account for 44 percent of energy consumption in U.S. residences1. Improper installation and maintenance of HVAC systems leads to increased energy use, unnecessary repairs, and occupant comfort issues. Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimate that central air conditioners (CACs) and air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) in the U.S. waste 20.7 terawatt hours of energy per year due to equipment faults2. That’s 9 percent of national CAC/ASHP energy consumption, costing equipment owners $2.5 billion annually. To provide the high quality comfort that occupants expect, these units will need to be installed correctly from the start.

What & Who

The STEP Campaign is sponsored by DOE and implemented by PNNL. The campaign aims to accelerate the adoption of HVAC smart diagnostic tools by providing a platform for technical assistance and access to key resources, such as guidance on implementation best practices for contractors and installers, independent testing of available smart diagnostic tools, utility incentive programs, case studies, and lessons learned.

The STEP Campaign will also recognize contractors and installers who have achieved success with adopting HVAC smart diagnostic tools in their business, and campaign supporters who have demonstrated impactful support to the STEP Campaign by promoting and sharing key resources.

What are Smart Diagnostic Tools?

Smart diagnostic tools determine faults in ASHPs and CACs by pairing a suite of digital gauges with a smart phone. Many brands of tools for residential HVAC diagnostics emerged in the last decade as a response to the need for more accurate and efficient ways to measure critical aspects of equipment performance, such as superheat and subcooling, while allowing for remote data collection for fault detection. Existing “smart” diagnostic tools on the market today use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth-enabled devices to monitor temperature, pressure, refrigerant charge, airflow, and other equipment performance metrics and transmit the data from equipment in the field to a central data logger or a mobile application, such as MeasureQuick (either Apple or Android-based).

Campaign Planning Partners

Building Performance

In addition to PNNL and DOE, campaign planning partners currently include the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, North American Technician Excellence, Consortium for Energy Efficiency, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, and Building Performance Association.

Interested in Joining?

To learn more about how your organization can participate, reach out today!

Contact Us

STEP Campaign Fact Sheet

Get more information about the benefits of smart diagnostic tools.


STEP Campaign Contractor Case Study

This case study combines the experiences of three contractors who integrated smart diagnostic tools into their business.


STEP Campaign Utility Case Study

How a group of utilities and energy-efficiency service providers designed a program to incentivize adoption of smart diagnostic tools.


1Energy Information Administration. 2020. Residential Energy Consumption Survey, 2015.

2Winkler et al. 2020. Impact of installation faults in air conditioners and heat pumps in single-family homes on U.S. energy usage. Applied Energy, Volume 278.