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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-42
Number of pages18
JournalThe Energy Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • energy efficiency
  • rebound
  • energy demand
  • energy supply


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