, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 370-376

An agent based approach to the potential for rebound resulting from evolution of residential lighting technologies

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More energy efficient lighting options, such as compact fluorescent bulbs and light emitting diodes are predicted to significantly reduce the amount of energy used for lighting. Such forecasts are predicated on the assumption of light saturation and do not take into account the potential for economic rebound. The potential of the rebound effect to reduce or negate predicted energy savings is explored here.


This work uses an agent-based model with a cellular automata approach to study the impact of rebound on the consumption of residential light and associated energy use, using three lighting technologies, and a time span from 2012 to 2030. Agents, representative of households, select between three lighting options using a multiplicative utility function and a probabilistic choice mechanism. Agents then decide whether to consume more light and potentially more energy based on the lighting technology selected and personal preferences. The agents are heterogeneous in nature, consisting of seven typologies, with their characteristics informed through survey data.

Results and discussion

The results of the model indicate that although the consumption of light may increase, overall changes in the consumption of energy compared to 2012 levels will be minor. If the consumption of light is held steady, assuming saturation, then there is the potential for the adoption of energy-efficient lighting to result in significant energy savings. However, if the rebound effect occurs, there will be a decrease in the consumption of energy for lighting as consumers adopt more energy efficient options. Overtime as the consumption of light continues to increase, those savings will largely be eroded.


This study suggests that the adoption of energy-efficient lighting in itself will not reduce the overall consumption of energy for lighting on a long-term scale although it may be successful in doing so in the short-term. The rebound effect will greatly reduce the projected energy savings from more efficient lighting technologies, with potential for direct rebound to exceed 100 %. In order for the quantity of energy utilized in residential lighting to decrease, solutions beyond that of efficiency gains must be considered.

Responsible editor: Roland Hischier