Measuring the rebound effect of energy efficiency initiatives for the future: A South African case study

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University of Cape Town

The rebound effect is a phrase which was originally defined to refer to the extent to which energy efficiency improvements are lost due to subsequent behavioural changes. This report documents almost three years of research work that set out to quantify the rebound effect of energy efficiency initiatives in South Africa’s residential sector, and to explore ways of mitigating that effect using awareness and education. Society is in an era where energy commodities are characterised by constrained supply, increasing demand, and higher prices, and where the harmful social and environmental externalities resulting from the conversion of primary into useful energy can no longer be ignored. Part of the solution to the sustainable energy provision and consumption challenge has focused on the technology devices used to convert primary and secondary energy to useful energy that can be used for lighting, water heating, space heating and cooling (and a host of other end-uses). Given that all energy demand can ultimately be traced to the energy required for survival, a study of the residential sector is the natural place to begin.