U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy


Use the glossary to access terms and definitions related to residential energy efficiency programs. Click the letters below to find your terms. Letters that do not appear currently do not have glossary terms related to them.

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Impact Evaluation

An evaluation of the program-specific, directly or indirectly induced changes (e.g., changes in energy or demand use) associated with an energy efficiency program.

Improvement Measure

A program action or tool that motivates a target audience to take a certain action.  An incentive typically lowers the risk, decreases cost, or offers other benefits for taking a specified action.  Incentives are most often used to attract customer but also contractor attention and persuade them to try products or services.  Incentives can be financial (e.g., rebates, limited-time offers, special interest rates) or non-financial (e.g., public recognition, awards, additional program services).

Independent Auditor

An individual who performs an assessment on a building independent of installation work.

Installation Specifications

A detailed description of improvement measures to be installed based on the Statement of Work, including identification of locations, quantities, materials, equipment selection, installation techniques, loading order, or other work details as required to fully describe the work to the customer and installation contractors.


An individual who installs an energy efficiency measure.

Integrated Resource Planning

A public planning process and framework within which the costs and benefits of both demand- and supply-side resources are evaluated to develop the least-total-cost mix of utility resource options. In many states, integrated resource planning includes a means for considering environmental damages caused by electricity supply/transmission and identifying cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives. These reports may be useful sources for the avoided cost data inputs that are required in the tool.

Interest Rate Buy-Down

An up-front payment made by a program administrator to a lender or investor to reduce the interest rate a customer pays.  The payment is made when a financial product is originated. The payment is typically the present value of the difference between the interest rate the customer will pay and the “market” interest rate of the financial product over the expected life of the financial product.