The Rebound Effect

URL: http://www.ukerc.ac.uk/support/tiki-index.php?page=ReboundEffect

An assessment of the evidence for rebound effects and net economy-wide energy savings from improved (building and transportation) energy efficiency.


The potential energy savings from improved energy efficiency and sustainable transportation are commonly estimated using basic physical principles and engineering models. However, the energy savings that are realised in practice generally fall short of these engineering estimates. One explanation is that improvements in energy efficiency encourage greater use of the services (for example heat or mobility) which energy helps to provide. Behavioural responses such as these have come to be known as the energy efficiency rebound effect.

While rebound effects vary widely in size, in some cases they may be sufficiently large to lead to an overall increase in energy consumption - an outcome that has been termed backfire.

This report analyses the nature, operation and importance of rebound effects and provides a comprehensive review of the available evidence on this topic, together with closely related issues, such as the link between energy consumption and economic growth. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence base, clarifies the underlying disputes and highlights the implications for energy and climate policy. The key message is that promoting energy efficiency remains an effective way of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions. But more explicit treatment of rebound effects is needed to assess the contribution that energy efficiency can realistically make.


Topics: Environment:, Climate change mitigation, Energy efficiency, Sustainable transportation
Location: US
Resource Type: strategies and interventions
Publisher: UK Energy Research Centre
Date Last Updated: 2010-11-28 19:31:05

Search the Topic Resources

Click for Advanced Search »