Energy efficiency, human behavior, and economic growth

Increasing energy efficiency in households, transportation, industries, and services is an important strategy to reduce energy service demand to levels that allow the steep reduction of greenhouse gases, and a full fledged switch of energy systems to a renewable basis. Yet, technological efficiency improvements may generate so-called rebound effects, which may ‘eat up’ parts of the technical savings potential. This chapter in the “Physics for Sustainable Energy II conference proceedings” provides a comprehensive review of existing research on these effects, raises critiques, and points out open questions. As a rough “rule of thumb”, about half the savings potential of energy efficiency improvements may be ‚eaten up’ by rebound effects.