Thermography Detects Defects
Thermography measures surface temperatures by using infrared cameras. Images record the temperature variations of the building's skin, ranging from white for warm regions to black for cooler areas. The resulting images help the auditor determine whether insulation is needed. They also serve as a quality control tool, to ensure that insulation has been installed correctly.
X-Ray Eyes a thermal imaging service in southeastern South Dakota uses infrared cameras to detect insulation voids, moisture problems and heating and cooling losses. “We identify problem areas and make recommendations about how to fix them,” said Jeremy Kays, a company technician. The company provides a written report along with photos to the client.
Kays recalled a case involving a newer residence his company examined in 2006. The homeowners were struggling with a cold bedroom while the rest of the structure was comfortable. The infrared scanning revealed a lack of ceiling insulation in one spot of the bedroom. That void caused the room to feel as cold as 49 degrees during a cold South Dakota winter. Kays and his team instructed the homeowners and their contractor on where to fix the problem, which was done by removing a small portion of the roof rather than becoming a major reconstruction project as the homeowners feared.
Gerry Burdick, owner of InfraTech in western South Dakota, also uses infrared cameras to conduct energy audits. “Our clients range from homeowners to hog-confinement facilities,” he said. Burdick starts his analysis on the exterior of the building, and then moves indoors to photograph the structure. Analyzing the two views gives him a good idea of what areas need attention to make the building more efficient.
In addition to identifying issues for homeowners, Burdick advises contractors to be mindful of their role in making a home energy efficient. “Saving a few dollars in insulation might cost the homeowner thousands in heating bills.” He further recommends homeowners make wise investments to combat energy hogs. Most heat loss occurs around windows and doors, he explained. Sometimes if a homeowner installs just a replacement window, but does nothing to the window frame, they find they still have a problem with air leaks, he said.
The U.S. Department of Energy, through its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program has valuable information about reducing a home's heating and cooling costs through proper insulation and air sealing techniques.
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