Value in use is another phrase for satisfaction, for the satisfaction generated by consuming a good or service. This particular phrase is most useful when compared with the notion of value in exchange.
The distinction between value in use and value in exchange is important for money, especially the difference between commodity money and fiat money. Commodity money has value in exchange AND value in use. In contrast, fiat money has value in exchange but little or no value in use.
Goods have value in use when they provide satisfaction. When a good is also used as money, then it has value in exchange, too. For commodity money, value in use largely determines value in exchange. If, for example, bread is used as commodity money and one loaf of bread provides the same value in use (satisfaction) as two apples, then the value in exchange is one loaf for two apples. The prices of other goods, the value in exchange, is specified in a similar fashion based on value in use.
People are willing to accept commodity money in exchange for good because (1) they can obtain satisfaction by consuming the commodity or (2) they can trade the commodity for another satisfaction-generating good.
The earliest forms of money were commodities precisely because they provided value in use to virtually everyone in an economy, such as grains used for food and animal skins used for clothing. People were originally willing to accept something like a loaf of bread in payment for another good because they were hungry, because the bread had value in use.
However, because others were also hungry, people soon realized that they could accept a loaf of bread in payment even if they were NOT hungry because they could then trade it for another good. They could trade it to someone else who WAS hungry. Knowing that EVERYONE was willing to trade for bread gave it value in exchange.
Although human civilization flourished through the centuries using commodity money with value in exchange AND value in use, modern economies have realized that value in use is NOT an essential quality for money. Modern fiat money functions quite well with little or no value in use. A hundred dollar bill provides very little direct satisfaction of wants and needs. Its value comes from the wants-and-needs-satisfying goods that it can be used to buy. Money is only valuable NOT for what it IS, but for what it can BUY.
VALUE IN USE, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2023. [Accessed: March 22, 2023].