Rebound, Technology and People: Mitigating the Rebound Effect with Energy-Resource Management and People-Centered Initiatives
A recent book by Horace Herring and Steven Sorrell (Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption: The Rebound Effect) suggests that energy efficiency will not be successful in reducing energy consumption and that a reliance on energy efficiency to reduce carbon emissions may be misguided. Such claims are rooted in concerns over the rebound effect and raise important policy issues. Do improvements in energy efficiency cause people to use more energy? Do energy service demands increase when appliances and technologies become more efficient? In other words, is rebound best understood as a social and behavioral response to technology-based solutions? Alternatively, how might a shift from technology-focused policies to people-centered policies offset the tendency toward increased energy service demands and promote energy resource management? This paper summarizes the evidence regarding the prevalence and characteristics of the rebound effect, documents its historical contribution to U.S. energy consumption, and considers the causal relationships which both result in rebound and suggest potential mitigation strategies. The second section explores the impact of different types of program strategies on energy efficiency, energy conservation, and rebound. The paper concludes with a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of people-centered versus technology-focused approaches to reduce energy consumption and accelerate carbon savings.
energy efficiency, energy-resource management