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Visualizing Energy Efficiency: A Picture is Worth More Than 1,022 Words



We deploy a randomized controlled trial involving approximately 12,500 households showing that providing consumers with a visual depiction of heat loss on utility bills leads to considerably larger energy savings compared to a popular social comparison “nudge”. Images showing roof heat loss were provided to approximately 4,000 randomly selected households in on-bill messaging. Heat loss is visualized using infrared images taken from an aircraft- mounted infrared sensor during the winter heating season. A similarly-sized randomly selected group received bill messaging with a ‘traditional’ social norm comparing their consumption to similar homes. We also find that the heat loss treatment results in a higher rate of realized energy efficiency durables investment and leads households to conserve in a manner consistent with private and social efficiency: the most inefficient households exhibit much larger energy reductions relative to the traditional social comparison.

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  • Maya Papineau & Nicholas Rivers, "undated". "Visualizing Energy Efficiency: A Picture is Worth More Than 1,022 Words," Carleton Economic Papers 19-10, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:car:carecp:19-10

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    1. Maria Gleerup & Anders Larsen & Soren Leth-Petersen & Mikael Togeby, 2010. "The Effect of Feedback by Text Message (SMS) and Email on Household Electricity Consumption: Experimental Evidence," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 3), pages 113-132.
    2. David P. Byrne & Andrea La Nauze & Leslie A. Martin, 2018. "Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know: Informedness and the Impact of Information Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 100(3), pages 510-527, July.
    3. Arik Levinson, 2016. "How Much Energy Do Building Energy Codes Save? Evidence from California Houses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2867-2894, October.
    4. Papineau, Maya, 2017. "Setting the standard? A framework for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of building energy standards," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 63-76.
    5. David P. Byrne & Andrea La Nauze & Leslie A.Martin, 2014. "Tell Me Something I Don’t Already Know:Informedness and External Validity in Information Programs," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1180, The University of Melbourne.
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    Energy efficiency; Social norms; Nudges; Randomized field experiments;

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