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Rebound Effects in Residential Heating A Matter of Goals?

Both the switch to renewable energy and the reduction of energy consumption are needed to decarbonize the building sector and meet climate goals. However, increased energy consumption following resource efficiency improvements (rebound effects) jeopardizes effec- tive resource savings. This field study involving 191 German homeowners is the first to show rebound effects from renewable energy for heating.

The study shows that households using more than 50 percent renewable energy for heating plan fewer energy retrofit measures than households heating with a lower share of 15 to 50 percent renewable energy. This represents a 9 percent loss in final energy savings. In addition, they were four times more likely to report heat-intensive behavior. This effect could not be explained by changes in ecological self-image, as assumed by moral licensing theory.

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