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. 2015 Dec;47(10):1059-1088.
doi: 10.1177/0013916514546218.

Making Heat Visible: Promoting Energy Conservation Behaviors Through Thermal Imaging

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Free PMC article

Making Heat Visible: Promoting Energy Conservation Behaviors Through Thermal Imaging

Julie Goodhew et al. Environ Behav. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Householders play a role in energy conservation through the decisions they make about purchases and installations such as insulation, and through their habitual behavior. The present U.K. study investigated the effect of thermal imaging technology on energy conservation, by measuring the behavioral effect after householders viewed images of heat escaping from or cold air entering their homes. In Study 1 (n = 43), householders who received a thermal image reduced their energy use at a 1-year follow-up, whereas householders who received a carbon footprint audit and a non-intervention control demonstrated no change. In Study 2 (n = 87), householders were nearly 5 times more likely to install draught proofing measures after seeing a thermal image. The effect was especially pronounced for actions that addressed an issue visible in the images. Findings indicate that using thermal imaging to make heat loss visible can promote energy conservation.

Keywords: behavioral interventions; energy conservation behavior; energy visibility; environmental psychology; thermal imaging.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of Conflicting Interests: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Thermal image showing a draught below the exterior door.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Change in mean annual carbon emission from domestic energy usage, T1 to T2. Note. One outlier in energy use was found (in the carbon footprint group) with much higher emissions than other homes (13,963 and 20,997 KgCO2). These data were removed from the data set. However, removing this outlier did not affect the overall significance levels reported below nor the conclusions.
Figure 3.
Figure 3.
Behaviors directly related to images versus not directly related.
Figure 4.
Figure 4.
Example of thermal image showing dark (cold) areas where there is cold air ingress around the surround of the doorway which leads outside.
Figure 5.
Figure 5.
Tailored energy efficiency suggestions evident in the images and advised in the thermographic report.

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