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I think anything that initializes a value in Configurator can eventually have performance impacts. In my experience, simpler models do not seems to have any noticeable performance degradation when using defaulting rules. It is typically noticed in large models. However, in almost all occasions, I encounter undesired side-effects of using the defaults. The biggest problem is that you can run into issues if you decide to change the "initial value" and later restore a model with the original "initial value". in these cases, when the model is restored, the initial value or default is not saved as an input. Instead, the new default is applied. These is usually undesirable.
For totals, I would suggest that you write a rule that contributes the initial value to the total immediately when the model is true.