Carnegie Mellon University
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Comparing the magnitude of simulated residential rebound effects from electric end-use efficiency across the US

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-06-01, 00:00 authored by Brinda Ann Thomas, Zeke Hausfather, Ines L. Azevedo

Many US states rely on energy efficiency goals as a strategy to reduce CO2e emissions and air pollution, to minimize investments in new power plants, and to create jobs. For those energy efficiency interventions that are cost-effective, i.e., saving money andreducing energy, consumers may increase their use of energy services, or re-spend cost savings on other carbon- and energy-intensive goods and services. In this paper, we simulate the magnitude of these 'rebound effects' in each of the 50 states in terms of CO2e emissions, focusing on residential electric end-uses under plausible assumptions. We find that a 10% reduction in annual electricity use by a household results in an emissions' reduction penalty ranging from 0.1 ton CO2e in California to 0.3 ton CO2e in Alabama (from potential emissions reductions of 0.3 ton CO2e and 1.6 ton CO2e, respectively, in the no rebound case). Rebound effects, percentage-wise, range from 6% in West Virginia (which has a high-carbon electricity and low electricity prices), to as high as 40% in California (which has low-carbon electricity and high electricity prices). The magnitude of rebound effects percentage-wise depends on the carbon intensity of the grid: in states with low emissions factors and higher electricity prices, such as California, the rebound effects are much larger percentage-wise than in states like Pennsylvania. Conversely, the states with larger per cent rebound effects are the ones where the implications in terms of absolute emissions changes are the smallest.


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