Making Heat Visible: Promoting Energy Conservation Behaviors Through Thermal Imaging

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


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.