Housing in low income communities in India is often constructed with materials that absorb heat and require more energy to cool down. These communities often use cooling fans and air coolers for hours a day, raising their energy bills especially during summers. By shifting to passive cooling, these homes could be better adapted to days of extreme heat, which could make households less vulnerable to weather impacts and improve their resilience against climate change risks.

To address this challenge, the Tata Centre for Development at UChicago, EPIC-India and Energy and Environment Lab have partnered with the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT), to evaluate the effectiveness of using heat reflective paints on roofs in lowering indoor temperatures and improving quality of life. While these paints are widely used, there is little rigorous evidence on their effectiveness outside of small-scale pilots. MHT is painting the roofs of households with heat reflective paint in a resettlement colony in Delhi. The University of Chicago researchers are working with MHT to evaluate the impact of the paints on indoor temperatures, energy expenditures, and overall wellbeing.

This project was one of the winning ideas in the Delhi Innovation Challenge which was a joint initiative of the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago and the Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi.

Project Partners

Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi

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The Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi is an initiative by the Govt. of Delhi to initiate and facilitate a dialogue between the people of Delhi and the government towards creating a clean, green, safe and corruption-free city.

Tata Centre for Development at UChicago

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The Tata Centre for Development at UChicago develops innovative, integrated approaches to tackling some of India’s most pressing development issues. With generous support from the Tata Trusts, the Tata Centre combines implementation, research and executive education to execute ambitious pilots, evaluate new solutions, and spread insights to key decision-makers who can translate research findings and successful pilots into wider impact. The Centre is housed at the Harris School of Public Policy in Chicago and the University of Chicago Trust in India.

Energy & Environment Lab

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The Energy & Environment Lab brings together policymakers, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropists to take a collaborative approach to improving the environment and ensuring access to reliable and affordable energy. We use natural experiments, randomized controlled trials, behavioral economics, and machine learning to help policymakers identify and generate evidence around innovative approaches to their most pressing environmental and energy-related challenges. In addition, we seek to build a portfolio of new knowledge about the key tools that policymakers have to impact environment and energy outcomes: behavior, pricing, and regulation.