Assessing the Harvest: Implementation of the Energy Efficiency Provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005

Research Report E113


Rachel Gold and Steve Nadel


In August 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (known as EPAct 2005) into law. This was the first major piece of energy legislation since 1992, and expectations were high that significant energy savings would result. An ACEEE study at the time estimated that the EPAct 2005 efficiency provisions would reduce annual U.S. energy use by about 2.5 quadrillion BTUs in 2020. 

The law included both manufacturer and consumer tax incentives for advanced energy-saving technologies, and minimum energy efficiency standards for 16 devices, as well as a variety of other provisions to encourage energy savings.

Today, more than five years later, as the United States Congress begins its 112th session, energy and oil independence issues rank high on the priorities for the Administration and the Congress. the fall of 2010 was a particularly contentious election season, where energy issues were among the issues used as a tool for dividing voter sentiments. In contrast, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was enacted through bipartisan compromise, and it is important to take a look back and learn from the successes and failures in implementation of these provisions. This report looks only at the energy efficiency provisions, as these were a key part of the 2005 law and these provisions are within our expertise.

This report reviews the current status and estimated energy savings of each provision now that about five years have elapsed since passage.  A brief section puts these provisions in the context of more recent federal legislation passed in 2007 and 2009, as well as major pending legislation. In assessing the efficacy of EPAct 2005 implementation, we tease out lessons learned and create a series of recommendations for those advocating for energy efficiency in 2011 and beyond.