However, there is evidence (Herring, H., Roy, R., 2002) to show that using energy (and in particular electricity) more efficiently does not necessarily lead to a reduction in energy use. Indeed there is evidence that using energy more effectively actually tends to increase its use - given the opportunity; people prefer to be warmer, rather than to reduce the cost of heating for example. (This, and other examples of the “Rebound Effect” are discussed in a wide range of studies, some of which are listed below) Given this, it would seem that enabling students to use energy more effectively and economically may serve not to decrease its consumption, but rather to increase it.
There is a growing trend now towards a principal of “the polluter pays” (O’Conner, M.,1997, chap.1) by which is meant that there is a fiscal cost of pollution (including greenhouse gasses) and that those responsible for its creation should be required to bear its economic cost. There is also a tendency for suppliers of services (particularly in the energy market) to unbundle their services, allowing consumers to see clearly what they are buying and at what cost. It would be possible for the University to combine these two trends, and to separately charge students for their energy use, instead of as at present including this in their overall accommodation charges. In doing so students would then become aware of exactly how much they are paying for energy, and be incentivised to manage their consumption.