GLRPPR Sector Resource: The Rebound Effect: An Assessment of the Evidence for Economy-wide Energy Savings from Improved Energy Efficiency
The Rebound Effect: An Assessment of the Evidence for Economy-wide Energy Savings from Improved Energy Efficiency
Most governments are seeking ways to improve energy efficiency in pursuit of their energy policy goals. The potential 'energy savings' from improved energy efficiency are commonly estimated using basic physical principles and engineering models. However, the energy
savings that are realized 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. Behavioral 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'. There is some evidence to suggest that improvements in the energy efficiency of certain 'pervasive' technologies such as steam engines and electric motors have contributed to backfire in the past.
U.K. Energy Research Center
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