How do we know whether energy programs are influencing how much energy we use, and when we use it?


Evaluation establishes the degree to which Demand Side Management (DSM) 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.

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

DSM programs reduce the electricity load existing power plants need to generate, so they can help avoid investment in new energy supply. Likewise, gas end use efficiency lessens strain on infrastructure. Evaluation allows system planners to assess the reduction in existing and future power demands. Another key measurement is the cost-effectiveness of DSM for society, for the program, and for the customer. Depending on state or provincial legislation, evaluation may measure progress toward public policy goals. Evaluation results illustrate the many benefits of energy efficiency programs, including energy savings, load management, decarbonization, reliability and resilience, affordability, and equity.

CEE members drive consistency and improve credibility in measuring and verifying energy savings from programs and portfolios. Historically energy use reduction has been accomplished through efficient measures—for example, by replacing an inefficient light bulb with a more efficient one. Members are now deploying new approaches to savings—for example, from a whole house approach or building controls— and targeting new types of program benefits – for example, load management and decarbonization. To measure these increasingly complex approaches and varied outcomes, evaluators are asking more questions about the interactions of system components and the interactions between systems and people.

CEE Evaluation Work

DSM Evaluation of programs demonstrates the benefits of DSM and points to opportunities and improvements for ongoing, deeper future savings. Evaluation provides important information for utility planning. Members decide how CEE should focus its evaluation efforts as they collaborate on projects and share information of interest to all. Through these activities, CEE drives consistency and improves credibility in evaluating energy savings from programs and portfolios.

Measuring Member Impact

Together members exert a powerful influence on markets to bring the benefits of energy efficiency to everyone. Each year, CEE quantifies the energy efficiency program industry in the CEE Annual Industry Report.

Evaluating Nonenergy Impacts

CEE members are examining effective methods and approaches for evaluating nonenergy impacts that occur as a result of DSM programs. Nonenergy impacts might include:

  • Avoided carbon emissions
  • Avoided criteria pollutants
  • Reduced environmental impacts
  • Productivity benefits
  • Water savings
  • Home weatherization benefits
  • Health and comfort benefits
  • Noise reduction benefits
  • Avoided maintenance benefits
  • Employment impacts and job creation
  • Product quality improvements
  • Affordability

ENERGY STAR® Household Awareness Survey

CEE has surveyed consumers since 2000 to measure the impact of the ENERGY STAR® label. Fielded to a random sample of US households, the survey includes questions about label recognition, knowledge of the label's meaning, emotional connection to the label, the influence of the label on purchasing, satisfaction with labeled products, and loyalty to the label. Members use these data to support residential program evaluation.

Learning About Evaluation

How can I learn more?

Efficiency is legislated for different reasons in different states and provinces. As a result, each administrator is running programs for various purposes and measuring different aspects of efficiency. For example, one state may want to reduce summer peak load, while others want to create jobs or reduce carbon emissions. Evaluation, as a result, uses varying definitions and methodologies. For that reason, it's difficult to point to one comprehensive source of information about evaluation the way you might for accounting. You may find the following documents a helpful overview of energy efficiency program evaluation.

CEE Principles of Evaluation

The CEE Principles of Evaluation reflect consensus among CEE members on important principles that, if followed, increase the likelihood that evaluation of energy efficiency programs will be undertaken in a responsible and effective manner. These principles were adopted by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) for further distribution to the regulatory community. They are offered as the perspective of the energy efficiency program industry on evaluation, and are not meant to be a comprehensive, prioritized list.




  • State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action): Energy Efficiency Webinar Series (webinars)
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