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

Maya Papineau and Nicholas Rivers

No 19-10, Carleton Economic Papers from Carleton University, Department of Economics

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.

Keywords: Energy efficiency; Social norms; Nudges; Randomized field experiments (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 41 pages
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ene and nep-exp
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Published: Carleton Economic Papers

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