Commercial lighting retrofit. iStockphoto/CEE staff illustration

When energy use falls, how do we know whether an energy efficiency program was a factor?

Evaluation establishes the degree to which energy efficiency programs are effective and a good use of public dollars. Regulators, businesses, customers, and program administrators use evaluation to understand how much energy a program saves and to improve a program over time.

Efficiency reduces the electricity load existing power plants need to generate, so it can help avoid investment in new energy supply. Likewise, gas end use efficiency lessens strain on infrastructure. Evaluation allows system planners to assess how much efficiency reduces existing and future power demands. Another key measurement is the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency for society, for the program, and for the customer. Depending on the state or provincial legislation, evaluation may measure progress toward public policy goals. Evaluation results illustrate the many benefits of energy efficiency programs.

The most cost-effective energy is the energy not used unecessarily.

CEE members drive consistency and improve credibility in measuring and verifying energy savings from programs and portfolios. Historically evaluation has been accomplished through efficient measures—for example, by replacing an inefficient light bulb with a more efficient one. Members are now identifying systemic savings—for example, from a whole house approach or building controls—so evaluators are asking more complex questions about the interactions of system components or between systems and people.

Just as you would track a financial investment to gauge performance, administrators track efficiency investments. Explore these pages to discover how we know how much energy is saved.