Turning lights into flights: Estimating direct and indirect rebound effects for UK households

Mona Chitnis, Steve Sorrell, Angela Druckman, Steven K. Firth, Tim Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

192 Citations (Scopus)
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Energy efficiency improvements by households lead to rebound effects that offset the potential energy and emissions savings. Direct rebound effects result from increased demand for cheaper energy services, while indirect rebound effects result from increased demand for other goods and services that also require energy to provide. Research to date has focused upon the former, but both are important for climate change. This study estimates the combined direct and indirect rebound effects from seven measures that improve the energy efficiency of UK dwellings. The methodology is based upon estimates of the income elasticity and greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity of 16 categories of household goods and services, and allows for the embodied emissions of the energy efficiency measures themselves, as well as the capital cost of the measures. Rebound effects are measured in GHG terms and relate to the adoption of these measures by an average UK household. The study finds that the rebound effects from these measures are typically in the range 5–15% and arise mostly from indirect effects. This is largely because expenditure on gas and electricity is more GHG-intensive than expenditure on other goods and services. However, the anticipated shift towards a low carbon electricity system in the UK may lead to much larger rebound effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-250
Number of pages17
JournalEnergy Policy
Early online date31 Dec 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013


  • rebound effect
  • sustainable consumption
  • income effects
  • re-spending


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