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Quantifying the rebound effects of energy efficiency improvements and energy conserving behaviour in Sweden


Doubts have recurrently been raised on the extent to which energy efficiency can reduce the demand for energy. Improvements in efficiency may cause so-called rebound effects by reducing the prices of energy services as well as by increasing the budget for consumption of other goods and services. The magnitude of such effects is crucial to whether energy efficiency should be a strategy for environmental policy or not. This paper aims to derive a general expression of the rebound effects of household consumption in a parameterised form where available data can be tested. The paper analyses how different parameter assumptions affect the quantification of rebound effects and what may be reasonable ranges. Income effects are quantified using data from the Swedish Household Budget Survey of different goods and services split on income classes. The changes in consumption patterns with increasing income are used to establish the composition of marginal consumption. Combined with energy intensities derived from input–output analysis, this gives a model of how money saved on energy use in one sector may lead to increased energy use in other sectors. The total rebound effects of energy efficiency improvements appear to be in the range 5–15% in most cases, but these results are fairly sensitive to assumptions of energy service price elasticities. Cases with low or negative capital costs for energy efficiency improvements may also result in much higher rebound effects as the income effects become more important. Energy-conserving behaviour (reduced energy service demand) affecting direct energy use such as heating and transport gives rise to rebound effects in the order of 10–20%, depending on the household expenditure per primary energy for different fuels and energy carriers.