Skip to content Skip to navigation

Energy Efficiency Policies: A Retrospective Examination

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Annual Review of Environmental Resources, p.31- (2006)



We review literature on several types of energy efficiency policies: appliance standards, financial incentive programs, information and voluntary programs, and management of government energy use. For each, we provide a brief synopsis of the relevant programs, along with available existing estimates of energy savings, costs, and cost-effectiveness at a national level. The literature examining these estimates points to potential issues in determining the energy savings and costs, but recent evidence suggests that techniques for measuring both have improved. Taken together, the literature identifies up to four quads of energy savings annually from these programsat least half of which is attributable to appliance standards and utility-based demand-side management, with possible additional energy savings from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) ENERGY STAR, Climate Challenge, and Section 1605b voluntary programs to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Related reductions in CO2 and criteria air pollutants may contribute an additional 10% to the value of energy savings above the price of energy itself.