Time-saving innovations and their impact on energy use: some lessons from a household-production-function approach

Int. J. Energy Technology and Policy, Vol. 2, No. 3, 2004, S. 209-218

This paper highlights a specific aspect of time allocation within households: the impact of time-saving technological progress on time use as well as on energy use for non-productive activities. It shows that, under standard assumptions, time-saving technological progress causes a feedback on time use (a rebound effect). If the feedback is strong, households may not ‘save’ any time at all although they constantly invest in time-saving devices. Moreover, innovations of a time-saving nature tend to have a substantial impact on energy consumption. When the opportunity costs of time (the wage rate) are high and energy prices are low, time-saving innovations are also likely to increase energy consumption.

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