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"Rebound" Effects from Increased Energy Efficiency: A Time to Pause and Reflect

Abstract:
The phenomenon of rebound effects has sparked considerable academic, policy and press debate in recent years over the effectiveness of energy efficiency policy. 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.

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Energy Specializations: Petroleum – Policy and Regulation; Energy Efficiency; Electricity – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General
Q55 - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

Keywords: Energy efficiency, Rebound, Energy demand, Energy supply

DOI: 10.5547/01956574.34.4.2

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Published in Volume 34, Number 4 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.