We document that infrared images identifying areas of home heat loss on customer utility bills along with social norm messaging lead to significantly larger energy savings relative to traditional home energy reports. We also find a higher rate of realized energy efficiency durables investment from the heat loss treatment using participant data from two local rebate programs. Heat loss is visualized using infrared images taken from above approximately 12,500 households using an aircraft-mounted thermal image sensor during the winter heating season. Infrared images showing roof heat loss were provided to approximately 4,000 randomly selected households in on-bill messaging. A similarly-sized randomly selected group received bill messaging with a ‘traditional’ social norm comparing their consumption to similar homes. We conclude that home heat loss imaging and framing consumption in terms of heat loss hold promise for cost-effectively magnifying the savings achieved from home energy reports.

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