1. Labeling, rating, and certification programs should be supported to ensure that indices of energy efficiency come into common use. More energy efficiency is purchased when simple indices become easily available. There have already been some commendable federal and private initiatives toward labeling appliances and vehicles and rating or certifying buildings for energy efficiency. Some uniform system of measurement and some uniform labeling format should exist for each class of goods being certified or labeled. The question of whether such standards should be developed by the federal government or some other source hinges on credibility (see Chapter 4). The decision on whether labeling or certification of energy efficiency should be voluntary or mandatory depends on the extent to which energy-efficient decisions are considered to be a public interest. Past experience indicates that private interest has only occasionally led to certification programs.

  2. Public agencies and private firms should develop better ways to give energy users feedback. Techniques should include monitoring devices for use in buildings and vehicles and more informative utility bills. Feedback is necessary because energy flows are generally invisible to energy users; the effects of efforts to cut energy use are also very difficult to judge (see Chapter 3). Feedback provides information that is specific to an energy user’s situation, and it makes that information highly credible. Research should be expanded to identify understandable measurement units for feedback. When the units are for residential energy users, the research should be done by the public sector, because it offers some benefits to the general public and because the cost of identifying appropriate units cannot be recovered by individual manufacturers that might do the research. For defining understandable units of energy use for organizational energy consumers, the research might appropriately be done by large organizations or their trade associations. Research should also proceed on attractive feedback displays; this work seems appropriate for the private sector, as it can be incorporated into equipment designs that can compete with each other. Feedback equipment should be demonstrated and tested in pilot projects, supported by public or private funds. More informative utility billing systems should be field tested and considered by regulatory agencies as possible requirements.

  3. Government or business groups should collect and disseminate highly condensed summaries of energy conservation efforts by organizations, including benefit-cost analyses. Because attention is a scarce resource for organizational decision makers, brevity is important. And because decision makers understand and value benefit-cost analysis, it may be a particularly effective form of communication. The summaries should be disseminated by sources that get the audience’s attention and are seen as credible, such

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