The so-called 'rebound effect' concerning fuel efficiency is overplayed, researchers suggest.
The rebound effect is a term given to the belief that those who drive more fuel-efficient vehicles end up driving more than their less fuel-efficient peers, thereby negating the effects.
It dates back long before fuel-efficient vehicles, to the 19th Century, when Stanley Jevons hypothesised that despite increasing efficiency, energy usage rises because consumption and production increases, ucdavis.edu reports.
Now, researchers from a number of different US universities have claimed that the impacts of this effect have been overplayed and its impact is not as pronounced as many had originally thought. Ken Gillingham, Dave Rapson, Matt Kotchen and Gernot Wagner found that whilst there was a case for the rebound effect, it is significantly less pronounced in the real world than theories will attest.
The team found that it is most likely a person will drive five to ten per cent more in a fuel efficient vehicle. However, the majority of additional fuel usage will come from the individual using money they saved - maybe after purchasing tracking systems - to buy other items which may also use energy to run.
Commenting on his own research, Wagner told theenergycollective.com: "When designing efficiency policies like clean-car standards, consider the rebound effect, much like the government already does. The Department of Energy's model uses a highly appropriate ten per cent rebound figure for car standards. And that's about it. Not much else to see here."