Thermal Imaging: A Cost Effective Solution in Every Home

Thermal Imaging: A Cost Effective Solution in Every Home

By Shehwar Ali

Infrared cameras have been used by insulation contractors and energy auditors for more than 30 years to diagnose home-performance issues. Their first use, a very expensive camera at the time, can be traced back to the late 1970s for the diagnosis of thermal envelope defects. Today, infrared cameras are called thermographic scanners or thermal imaging devices.

How Is Thermal Imaging Used in the Construction Industry?

Thermal Imaging, the detection, and location of patterns and sources of heat loss which are not visible to the naked eye is used as a quality control measure during home renovations or new construction to ensure air tightness and energy efficiency.

Trained specialists also use infrared cameras for the detection of insulation voids, air leaks, moisture intrusion, hydronic tubing leaks, thermal bypasses and thermal bridges.

Vancouver Launches Large-Scale Thermal Imaging Program

The City of Vancouver is planning to launch its very first ‘thermal imaging program’ this coming winter to examine energy efficiency in about 15,000 Vancouver homes. Similar to the technology used by Google street view, a thermal camera attached to a vehicle will capture images. A malfunction is detected using heat differences in a cracked window or gaps in insulation.
Homeowners receive the results and are offered incentives provided by companies like BC Hydro and Fortis to encourage homeowners to get them replaced as soon as possible to cut the cost of their electricity bills.

Thermal Cameras vs. Other Imaging Technologies

A thermal imaging camera is thought to be most accurate amongst all. Such cameras can produce two-dimensional pictures of an area which ultimately shows the presence of heat leakage. Thermal scanners and spot radiometers, on the other hand, do not provide the complete information needed for the energy assessment of a single unit.

In most cases, users adjust the images every time. Typically, the most common setting includes a grey scale image and a colored image.

What Homeowners Should Know

Since larger differences in temperature (between outside and inside) produce more accurate thermographic images,  it is advised to conduct thermal scanning in the winter. Because of a phenomenon called thermal loading, homeowners – depending on their local conditions – are supposed to maintain a set temperature, both internal and external for a specified period for the inspection to be successful.

Image provided by the City of Vancouver.

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