We deploy a randomized controlled trial involving approximately 12,500 householdsshowing that providing consumers with a visual depiction of heat loss on utility bills leads toconsiderably larger energy savings compared to a popular social comparison “nudge”. Imagesshowing roof heat loss were provided to approximately 4,000 randomly selected householdsin 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 randomlyselected group received bill messaging with a ‘traditional’ social norm comparing theirconsumption to similar homes. We also find that the heat loss treatment results in a higherrate of realized energy efficiency durables investment and leads households to conserve in amanner consistent with private and social efficiency: the most inefficient households exhibitmuch larger energy reductions relative to the traditional social comparison.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Energy efficiency, nudge
Publisher Department of Economics
Series Carleton Economics Working Papers (CEWP)
Citation
Papineau, M, & Rivers, Nicholas. (2020). Visualizing Energy Efficiency: A Picture is Worth More Than 1,022 Words (No. CEP 19-10). Carleton Economics Working Papers (CEWP). Department of Economics.