Air pollution is one of the most important environmental problems in Chile. The government of Chile estimates that 8 million inhabitants are exposed to high fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations and 3,500 people die each year from causes directly related to air pollution. The wood combustion by households to produce energy for heating and cooking is the main driver of poor air quality in urban areas in the central-southern regions. Since 2011, the government has carried out several stove replacement programs and thermal insulation programs in more than 30 cities. What is missing so far is an analysis of the causal effect of these interventions. The objective of this project is to evaluate the causal effects of stove replacement programs on indoor temperature (thermal comfort), indoor air quality, stove use, and fuel consumption. We also aim to start exploring the impacts of thermal insulation programs and will evaluate how frequently new stoves are used. In order to do so, we plan to sample households from those that were selected for participation in the stove replacement program; some of these households will be treated (receive the stove) and others will be controls (had not yet received their stoves during the observation period, but have been accepted to receive replacement stoves). Our project will be conducted in the field with selected samples of households (control and treatments). We plan to conduct our research in Talca and Temuco, two urban areas in central-southern Chile. We choose to focus on these cities for two reasons. First, these cities were declared “saturated areas” by the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), which implies that air pollution is regarded as a major problem from a policy perspective. Second, we have already contacted local and national authorities and obtained formal support and interest in the policy evaluation nature of our research.
Keywords: Air pollution; household behavior; energy transition; heating; stoves; thermal insulation