Increased Efficiency Sparks More Use?

January 31, 2013

It's a relevant question to consider: does increased energy efficiency spark more use? The so-called "rebound effect" could affect efficiency and should be examined while putting in place energy efficiency policy, according to some analysts.

For example, by 2025, fuel efficiency of vehicles will be required to double. As a result, oil consumption and global prices would fall; this makes oil cheap again, thus encouraging more consumption.

Proposed by British economist W. Stanley Jevons, the rebound effect may be real, but is "too small to derail energy efficiency polices," argues a team of economists published in Nature, an international weekly science journal.

So where does that leave us? When designing energy efficiency policies, consider the rebound effect, but know that it isn't that large. In fact, the Department of Energy's model uses a 10 percent rebound figure for car standards, and that's about it.

Read more from the Scientific American article and join the discussion.

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