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

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Abstract

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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    Keywords

    Energy efficiency; Social norms; Nudges; Randomized field experiments;
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