Steam cracking for the production of light olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, is the single most energy-consuming process in the chemical industry. This paper reviews conventional steam cracking and innovative olefin technologies in terms of energy efficiency. It is found that the pyrolysis section of a naphtha steam cracker alone consumes approximately 65% of the total process energy and approximately 75% of the total exergy loss. A family portrait of olefin technologies by feedstocks is drawn to search for alternatives. An overview of state-of-the-art naphtha cracking technologies shows that approximately 20% savings on the current average process energy use are possible. Advanced naphtha cracking technologies in the pyrolysis section, such as advanced coil and furnace materials, could together lead to up to approximately 20% savings on the process energy use by state-of-the-art technologies. Improvements in the compression and separation sections could together lead to up to approximately 15% savings. Alternative processes, i.e. catalytic olefin technologies, can save up to approximately 20%.