Jonah Lehrer suggests leveraging “mental accounting” to create a free lunch by imposing a tax on homeowners to pay for energy retro-fitting that they won’t notice because of its small size relative to the price of the house:

But I can already hear the naysayers: Won’t homeowners object? Won’t that just add thousands of dollars to the cost of buying a home?Enter mental accounting, an irrational bias that can be tweaked to produce positive outcomes. Because a home is already such a gigantic purchase, and because the home buying process is already so saturated in peculiar fees (inspection charges, loan points, escrow fees, mortgage broker expenses, etc.) I’d argue that consumers will be much less sensitive to the cost of a home renovation. They’ll barely even notice the $5000 “energy efficiency charge” when it appears on their massive bill from the real estate agent. (Besides, they’ll get a big chunk of the money back as a tax credit.) In other words, they’ll act just like me the last time I stayed at a fancy hotel, when I ordered the internet and ate the peanuts.