Energy efficiency rebound

As we replace our lighting with more energy efficient LEDs, we’d expect the overall system to consume less power, perhaps proportionate to the energy efficiency improvements that LEDs bring to traditional lighting. But that doesn’t seem to be the case because two things happen when you introduce more efficiency into the system:

  • Brightness of light bulbs or lighting increases with the same amount of energy input
  • Keeping the brightness constant, the energy input required falls.

Typically, the result is a combination of these two phenomena; so we have got people using brighter lights that may consume a little less energy. Or, at the same time, people started installing more lighting now that the LED lights are cheaper and more common.

Overall, the energy consumption reductions is less than the energy efficiency gains. This is known as the energy efficiency rebound effect. We see similar issues potentially with the deflation of goods and services over the recent decades. People did not spend less but in fact they spent more, buying much more of those cheap things that their parents could not enjoy at the prices they had paid. Probably also spurned by the easy credit available.

Do you spot any other areas like that in your life?