Engaging People with Energy Efficiency: A Randomised Controlled Trial Testing the Effects of Thermal Imaging Visuals in a Letter Communication
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The study tested the effect of adding visualisations to a communication to engage householders with an energy efficiency programme. External wall insulation is an appropriate way of insulating homes, yet take-up is low. Householders may be unaware of the heat loss from uninsulated walls. In earlier research, seeing thermal images prompted the uptake of simple energy efficiency actions amongst householders. Thermal images were added to a standard letter to visualise heat transfer from a home before and after external wall insulation had been installed. A randomised controlled trial tested three types of letter (standard, standard plus thermal image showing problem, standard plus thermal images showing problem and solution) in 5483 UK households. The target outcome was the rate of telephone enquiries after exposure to the letters. Enquiry rates were low (1.6%) and did not differ between letter type. We discuss the null effect in relation to the target action (external wall insulation), the manner of presentation of the visuals (mass communication, letter through the door) and the ingredients of a persuasive intervention. Findings suggest that taking a key ingredient from an intervention and applying it in a different context may result in the loss of its impact.
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