This paper analyses the adoption of energy-efficiency enhancing technologies by heterogeneous firms. The fact that energy use does not only cause external environmental costs through pollution, but also directly affects the profitability of the firm and hence its behaviour on input and output markets is taken for granted. It is demonstrated that the consideration of such market processes may have important implications for the efficiency of environmental policies concerned with energy use. The analysis focuses in particular on the efficiency of the market-led adoption and diffusion process under various policy regimes. It is shown that the promotion of energy-efficiency enhancing technologies might have unexpected effects in that it could lead to an increase in energy use, while the use of energy taxes might actually reduce the attractiveness of energy-saving technologies. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.