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Does Energy Efficiency Reduce Emissions and Peak Demand? A Case Study of 50 Years of Space Heating in Melbourne

  • Graham Palmer

    ()

    (Paltech Corporation, 8 Kingston Park Court Knoxfield, Victoria 3180, Australia)

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    This paper examines the relationship between space heating energy efficiency and two related but distinct measures; greenhouse mitigation, and peak demand. The historic role of Melbourne’s space heating provides an opportunity to assess whether improvements in energy efficiency lead to sustained reductions in energy consumption or whether rebound factors “take back” efficiency gains in the long run. Despite significant and sustained improvements in appliance efficiency, and the thermal efficiency of new building fabrics, the per-capita heating energy consumption has remained remarkably stable over the past 50 years. Space heating efficiency is bound up with notions of comfort, sufficiency and lifestyle, and the short-run gains from efficiency become incorporated into a new set of norms. It is this evolution of cultural norms that reconciles the contradiction between the short-run gains from efficiency measures, with the efficiency rebound that becomes evident over the long-term. The related, but distinct peak demand measure can be influenced by efficiency measures, but energy efficiency measures will not alter the requirement for large-scale conventional energy to provide affordable and reliable winter heating.

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    Article provided by MDPI, Open Access Journal in its journal Sustainability.

    Volume (Year): 4 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 1525-1560

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    Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:4:y:2012:i:7:p:1525-1560:d:18833
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    1. Schipper, Lee & Grubb, Michael, 2000. "On the rebound? Feedback between energy intensities and energy uses in IEA countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 367-388, June.
    2. Trainer, Ted, 2010. "Can renewables etc. solve the greenhouse problem? The negative case," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 4107-4114, August.
    3. J. Daniel Khazzoom, 1980. "Economic Implications of Mandated Efficiency in Standards for Household Appliances," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 4), pages 21-40.
    4. Steven Sorrell, 2010. "Energy, Economic Growth and Environmental Sustainability: Five Propositions," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(6), pages 1784-1809, June.
    5. A. Greening, Lorna & Greene, David L. & Difiglio, Carmen, 2000. "Energy efficiency and consumption -- the rebound effect -- a survey," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(6-7), pages 389-401, June.
    6. Nicholson, Martin & Biegler, Tom & Brook, Barry W., 2011. "How carbon pricing changes the relative competitiveness of low-carbon baseload generating technologies," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 305-313.
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