Dealing with Rebound Effects

Herring, Horace (2011). Dealing with Rebound Effects. In: ECEEE Summer Study, 6-11 Jun 2011, Belambra Presqu'île de Giens, France.



Energy efficiency has failed to deliver its promised savings. This is mainly because of the rebound effect. Whilst there has been some energy savings on the micro level (rebound is less than 100%), on the macro level energy use has continued to increase despite large increases in energy efficiency. This is because we choose to convert the financial savings from energy efficiency into greater consumption. However energy efficiency still has an important role, in that we can use its financial gains to fund renewable energy sources. This requires an integrated approach, whereby consumers are sold a package of efficiency and domestic renewable energy measures, often termed micro-generation. This paper first outlines the rebound effect and an anthropological approach to energy consumption that focuses on values of comfort, convenience and cleanliness as the drivers for consumer energy demand. It then presents ongoing research from the Open University on the feasibility and popularity of low-carbon living in the UK. It concludes that the emphasis should be on low carbon life-styles for communities rather low-carbon houses for individuals.

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