More detailed data, collected more frequently, are needed to better assess the status of energy efficiency efforts in industry and their prospects. In order to achieve this goal, proprietary concerns will have to be addressed.


Although policy recommendations are beyond the scope of this study, policy actions will doubtless be an integral part of the nation’s efforts to transform the ways in which Americans use energy. To inform the policy debate, the AEF Committee reviewed some experiences with—and, just as important, lessons learned from—the use of policies and programs to influence energy use in the United States. This brief review concentrates on federal actions, but it also covers state policy initiatives as well as some programs that have been adopted by electric utilities. Among the important initiatives at the state level, the most successful and interesting are those in California and New York.

Barriers to Adoption of Energy-Efficient Technologies

There is no single market for energy efficiency. Instead, there are hundreds of end-uses, thousands of intermediaries, and millions of consumers (Golove and Eto, 1996). The preceding sections have identified some specific factors that hinder the adoption of energy-efficient technologies and practices by these consumers—individuals, organizations, and businesses—in each of the three end-use sectors. Summarized in the following list, the barriers include:

  • Limited supply and availability of some energy efficiency measures, such as newer products manufactured on a limited scale or not yet widely marketed;

  • Lack of information, or incomplete information, on energy efficiency options for businesses, households, and other venues;

  • Lack of funds to invest in energy efficiency measures, often resulting from constraints imposed within the financial system rather than from the financial inability of the would-be user to raise capital;

  • Fiscal or regulatory policies that discourage energy efficiency investments, often inadvertently;

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement