16 Aug 2012
The so-called “rebound” effect of energy efficiency – a darling of contrarians – persistently pops up wherever one looks, like the arcade game of Whack-a-Mole. But rebound is largely a phony issue, and to the extent it has validity it’s highly exaggerated, as the excellent analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council on our ElectricityPolicy.com website and a recent paper by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy make clear.
Rebounders say that when we buy a more energy-efficient car, we drive more. When we install more efficient light bulbs, we’re more inclined to leave the lights on longer. If the end result is that gains in energy efficiency are offset by increased energy use, then what’s the point?