I think that if energy efficiency is built-in there is no rebound effect.
If I drive a Prius at 50 mpg, instead of a standard light vehicle at 25 mpg, am I going to drive 2 times the number of miles? Heck no, I have better things to do with my time.
If I live in an off the grid house, my energy bills will be near zero, versus living in a standard energy hog house with energy bills of about $4000; about $5500 before tax, am I going to run out and stock up on other goods and services, or pay off some debt, or save for a rainy day, or take more time off?
Regarding off the grid living, here is how that may be done for a free-standing house oriented towards the sun:
Off the Grid, in Near-Zero-CO2 mode, With an Energy Efficient House: My starting point is a house, NOT grid-connected, that uses about 80% less energy for heating, cooling, and electricity than a standard house, a la Passivhaus.
In winter it will be challenging, as several days may pass with near-zero electrical and thermal energy generation. At least a week's consumption of electrical and hot water storage will be required.
For living off the grid, in a near-zero-CO2 mode, the house would need to be equipped with:
- A roof-mounted, PV solar system + a lead-acid battery system + a hot water storage tank with DC electric heater + a system with DC pump and water-to-air heat exchanger.
- A gasoline-powered, 2 kW DC generator with 50-gallon fuel tank to provide electricity in case of too little PV solar energy during winter, due to fog, ice, snow, clouds, etc.
- Any excess electricity would bypass the already-full batteries and go to the electric heater in the DHW tank. Any excess thermal energy would be exhausted from the DHW tank to the outdoors.
- A whole house duct system to supply and return warm and cool air, with an air-to-air heat exchanger to take in fresh, filtered air and exhaust stale air at a minimum of 0.5 ACH, per HVAC code.
- For space cooling, a small capacity, high-efficiency AC unit would be required on only the warmest days, as the house will warm up very slowly.
- For space heating, a DC electric heater, about 1.5 kW (about the same capacity as a hairdryer) for a 2,000 sq ft house, in the air supply duct, would be required on only the coldest days.
NOTE: Because PV solar systems have become much less costly, it would less complicated and lower in O&M costs to increase the capacity of the PV solar system to also provide electricity for DHW, instead of having an $8,000 roof-mounted solar thermal system for DHW; no tube leaks, freeze-ups, less moving parts, etc. With a properly insulated, large capacity DHW tank, say 250+ gallons, there would be enough DHW for a week.
NOTE: About 70% of battery nameplate rating is available, as batteries are typically charged to a maximum of 90% and discharged to a minimum of 20% of capacity to prolong their useful service lives beyond about 8 years. Usually the charging and discharging is much less than 70%.
NOTE: Battery charging loss is about 10% and discharging loss is about 10%, i.e., in 100 W in, store 90 W, out 81 W. DC to AC has a loss of about 10%, and AC to DC has a loss of about 10%, i.e., minimizing conversion by using DC devices (fans, pumps, etc.) avoids losses.
NOTE: As space heating and cooling would be required for just a few days of the year, an air-source heat pump would be overkill and too expensive in this case.
NOTE: A future plug-in vehicle could be charged with DC energy from the house batteries by bypassing the vehicle AC to DC converter, provided the house batteries have adequate remaining storage capacity, kWh, for other electricity usages. During some winter days, this may not be feasible, as not enough PV solar energy would be available; public chargers would be needed.
NOTE: The PV solar system needs to be oversized to ensure adequate electrical and thermal energy during winter when the monthly minimum winter irradiance is about 1/4 - 1/6 of the monthly maximum summer irradiance. See below URL of monthly output from 2 monitored solar systems in Munich; 1/6 is about right in South Germany. Whereas, the daily or weekly maximum solar output may be up to 60% of installed capacity, kW, during a very sunny period, it may be near zero, due to fog, ice, snow, clouds, etc. The same is true in Vermont.
NOTE: The above example shows to provide standard houses (energy-hog instead of a la Passivhaus) with PV solar systems, they would need to be of such large capacity that the costs would be prohibitive, if zero-energy/near-zero CO2 is the goal.