How much heat does your house lose?

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In these difficult economic times we are all interested in where we can save money – infra-red imaging is a way to see how much heat (and therefore money) is escaping from your home or business. We are all used to online maps which contain detailed satellite and aerial imagery of streets all over the world (many of us can access them on our mobile phones), but soon they could also provide a thermal insight into the energy efficiency of any property shown.

An example map

These images known as ‘thermographic infrared maps’ are currently being trialled in a number of towns and cities across Europe. For example via the Belgian government’s ‘Zoom Into Your Roof’ project, homeowners  in Antwerp can access images taken from a plane fitted with an infrared scanner that show the effectiveness of their home’s insulation (or lack thereof).

In a similar way residents of  Slough could access a map through the Borough Council website to see how much heat was being lost through their roof.

The maps are simply colour coded, with red and yellow demonstrating the amount of wasted heat escaping. Dark blue hues depict buildings that are either more energy-efficient or perhaps uninhabited.

This is quite a fun way of seeing how efficient your home is, but with some limitations!  The main drawback is that they are one-off snapshots, they capture a single moment in time, therefore information can quickly become outdated. Also wet roofs or sunshine can also cause misleading results, therefore infrared surveys are best undertaken on dry nights.

However with users able to compare the efficiency of their homes with their neighbours’, this could help increase awareness as well as implementation of energy conservation measures such as draught-proofing and improved insulation.

I believe anything that highlights heat loss (or more effectively cash lost) to people is a great tool in improving our housing stock. The images for most of the UK are available (but not free at the moment). Perhaps its time to make them available?
I can’t wait to see what Nottingham looks like through infra-red imaging!

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