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'Rebound' effects from increased energy efficiency: a time to pause and reflect


  • Turner, Karen


The phenomenon of rebound effects has sparked considerable academic, policy and press debate over the effectiveness of energy efficiency policy in recent years. There has been a huge surge in empirical studies claiming rebound effects of hugely varying magnitudes. The contention of this paper is that the lack of consensus in the literature is grounded in a rush to empirical estimation in the absence of solid analytical foundations. Focus on measuring a single 'rebound' measure has led to a neglect of detail on precisely what type of change in energy use is considered in any one study and on the range of mechanisms governing the economy-wide response. This paper attempts to bring a reflective pause to the development of the rebound literature, with a view to identifying the key issues that policymakers need to understand and analysts need to focus their attention on.

Suggested Citation

  • Turner, Karen, 2012. "'Rebound' effects from increased energy efficiency: a time to pause and reflect," Stirling Economics Discussion Papers 2012-15, University of Stirling, Division of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:stl:stledp:2012-15

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Wu, Kuei-Yen & Wu, Jung-Hua & Huang, Yun-Hsun & Fu, Szu-Chi & Chen, Chia-Yon, 2016. "Estimating direct and indirect rebound effects by supply-driven input-output model: A case study of Taiwan's industry," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(P1), pages 904-913.
    2. Wirl, Franz, 2015. "White certificates — Energy efficiency programs under private information of consumers," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 507-515.
    3. Chitnis, Mona & Sorrell, Steve & Druckman, Angela & Firth, Steven K. & Jackson, Tim, 2014. "Who rebounds most? Estimating direct and indirect rebound effects for different UK socioeconomic groups," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 12-32.
    4. repec:eee:eneeco:v:67:y:2017:i:c:p:202-212 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Schleich, Joachim & Mills, Bradford & Dütschke, Elisabeth, 2014. "A brighter future? Quantifying the rebound effect in energy efficient lighting," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 35-42.
    6. Achtnicht, Martin & von Graevenitz, Kathrine & Koesler, Simon & Löschel, Andreas & Schoeman, Beaumont & Tovar Reaños, Miguel Angel, 2015. "Including road transport in the EU-ETS: An alternative for the future?," ZEW Expertises, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research, number 111452.
    7. Anna Alberini, Will Gans, and Charles Towe, 2016. "Free Riding, Upsizing, and Energy Efficiency Incentives in Maryland Homes," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    8. repec:eee:rensus:v:77:y:2017:i:c:p:336-343 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Dahlqvist, Anna & Lundgren, Tommy & Marklund, Per-Olov, 2017. "Assessing the Rebound Effect in Energy Intensive Industries: A Factor Demand Model Approach with Asymmetric Price Response," Working Papers 150, National Institute of Economic Research.
    10. Benjamin Volland, 2016. "Efficiency in Domestic Space Heating: An Estimation of the Direct Rebound Effect for Domestic Heating in the U.S," IRENE Working Papers 16-01, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    11. Lee, Minsoo & Park, Donghyun & Saunders, Harry, 2014. "Asia’s Energy Adequacy, Environmental Sustainability, and Affordability: An Overview," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 398, Asian Development Bank.
    12. Moshiri, Saeed & Aliyev, Kamil, 2017. "Rebound effect of efficiency improvement in passenger cars on gasoline consumption in Canada," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 330-341.
    13. repec:spr:climat:v:143:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10584-017-2003-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Koesler, Simon & Swales, Kim & Turner, Karen, 2016. "International spillover and rebound effects from increased energy efficiency in Germany," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 444-452.
    15. Broberg, Thomas & Berg, Charlotte & Samakovlis, Eva, 2015. "The economy-wide rebound effect from improved energy efficiency in Swedish industries–A general equilibrium analysis," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 26-37.
    16. Bibas, Ruben & Méjean, Aurélie & Hamdi-Cherif, Meriem, 2015. "Energy efficiency policies and the timing of action: An assessment of climate mitigation costs," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 90(PA), pages 137-152.
    17. Sylvain Weber & Mehdi Farsi, 2014. "Travel Distance and Fuel Efficiency: An Estimation of the Rebound Effect using Micro-Data in Switzerland," IRENE Working Papers 14-03, IRENE Institute of Economic Research.
    18. Harry D. Saunders, 2015. "Recent Evidence for Large Rebound: Elucidating the Drivers and their Implications for Climate Change Models," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1).
    19. Turner, Karen & Katris, Antonios, 2017. "A ‘Carbon Saving Multiplier’ as an alternative to rebound in considering reduced energy supply chain requirements from energy efficiency?," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 249-257.
    20. David I. Stern, 2017. "How accurate are energy intensity projections?," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 143(3), pages 537-545, August.

    More about this item


    Energy efficiency; Rebound; Energy demand; Energy supply;

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General

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