Episode 140: Do rebates for energy efficient appliances work?

Have you heard about rebates being used to get people to switch to more energy efficient devices? Inês Azevedo, associate professor at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and co-Director for the Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM) Center at Carnegie Mellon University explains what rebate programs are the most effective.



Learn more

Energy Incentive Programs from the Department of Energy

State and Local Energy Efficiency Programs from the Small Business Association

Energy Efficient Appliances from EnergyStar.gov


HOST: Have you ever wondered if rebates for energy efficient appliances work? On this week’s Energy Bite, Azevedo Azevedo, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

AZEVEDO: Energy efficiency is one of the key strategies we need to pursue if we want to reduce the emissions associated with climate change. In the United States, we have a long history of energy efficiency programs and technology standards. Rebates are one of the strategies that have been used to drive people to choose for efficient appliance.

HOST: Do they work?

AZEVEDO: The answer will depend on how the rebate program is designed. We found in our research a Carnegie Mellon that if the rebate also includes a requirement for people to return or recycle their old appliance, then energy consumption in those houses is reduced by about 7%. However, if there is no requirement to recycle or return the old appliance, the energy consumption actually increases by 7%. We suspect this is because people keep their old refrigerator or air conditioner and put it elsewhere in the house. Because these consumers keep both appliances, the rebate does not reach its goal.

HOST: If you received a rebate for an energy efficient appliance, would you still keep the old one? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.


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