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Costs of Energy Efficiency Mandates Can Reverse the Sign of Rebound


  • Don Fullerton
  • Chi L. Ta


Improvements in energy efficiency reduce the cost of consuming services from household cars and appliances and can result in a positive rebound effect that offsets part of the direct energy savings. We use a general equilibrium model to derive analytical expressions that allow us to compare rebound effects from a costless technology shock to those from a costly energy efficiency mandate. We decompose each total effect on the use of energy into components that include a direct efficiency effect, direct rebound effect, and indirect rebound effect. We investigate which factors determine the sign and magnitude of each. We show that rebound from a costless technology shock is generally positive, as in prior literature, but we also show how a pre-existing energy efficiency standard can negate the direct energy savings from the costless technology shock – leaving only the positive rebound effect on energy use. Then we analyze increased stringency of energy efficiency standards, and we show exactly when the increased costs reverse the sign of rebound. Using plausible parameter values in this model, we find that indirect effects can easily outweigh the direct effects captured in partial equilibrium models, and that the total rebound from a costly efficiency mandate is negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Don Fullerton & Chi L. Ta, 2019. "Costs of Energy Efficiency Mandates Can Reverse the Sign of Rebound," NBER Working Papers 25696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25696
    Note: EEE PE

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan B. Bruns & Alessio Moneta & David I. Stern, 2019. "Estimating the Economy-Wide Rebound Effect Using Empirically Identified Structural Vector Autoregressions," LEM Papers Series 2019/27, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy

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