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.

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Department of Economics
Carleton Economics Working Papers (CEWP)
Department of Economics

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.