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The Social Dimension of the Rebound Effect

The increase of the energy efficiency of appliances as well as of other energy using products is generally regarded as an effective strategy to achieve goals of energy and climate policy by reducing energy demand. Thus, the energetic modernisation of buildings or the promotion of energy-efficient vehicles is generally granted high potential to reduce energy consumption. However, in reality, the potentials realized by investments in energy efficiency can be lower than those to be theoretically expected or calculated from a technological point of view due to changes of behaviour following the investment. This effect is known as the rebound effect.

While the existence of the rebound effect remains largely undisputed, scholars differ widely over its magnitude and relevance as well as over its causes. However, latter is one of the prerequisites for its control and therefore for achieving energy and climate policy objectives.

Research on the rebound effect has so far been dominated by economic approaches. However, there is a growing appreciation that psychological and sociological factors could be of explanatory power as well. The BMBF-funded research project REBOUND aims at developing a better understanding of the rebound effect from an economical, psychological and sociological perspective.

In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (Fraunhofer ISI), ZIRIUS analysis the psychological and sociological side of the rebound effect. Among other things, a lifestyle concept is applied and focus groups with representatives of different lifestyles are conducted. The focus groups’ aim is to analyze issues and heuristics of energy use. The results are fed into a survey carried out by the REBOUND project partners. Finally, the projects’ results will be discussed during a Group Delphi organized by ZIRIUS. The project’s general coordinator is the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW).

Project duration: September 2010 – August 2013
Project staff: Sonnberger, Marco, M.A.
Deuschle, Juergen, M.A.
Contact: Marco Sonnberger, M. A.
Jürgen Deuschle, M. A.
Project homepage at ZEW: http://kooperationen.zew.de/rebound/startseite.html

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