Belgian homeowners go into the (Infra)red
An application that uses ariel thermographic imagery allows Belgian homeowners to see how efficient -- or inefficient -- their insulation is, and, in turn, save money. But is it more invasive than empowering?
Mon, Aug 23 2010 at 11:04 AM
Remember my post
, a British "eco-surveillance" firm that stealthily snaps thermal images of homes to help illustrate to homeowners the amount of heat escaping from a building? If the Big Brother overtones of this intrusive but ultimately helpful venture gave you pause, check out the below video detailing an online program taking place in and around the Belgian city of Antwerp called Zoom Into Your Roof
Similar to the Google Maps application, a user can type in an address into the Zoom Into Your Roof program and view a nifty aerial photograph of their own home. Only difference is, Zoom Into Your Roof uses thermographic technology to show exactly how efficient — or inefficient — the roof insulation is at a certain address. Like the technology used by Heatseekers, red and yellow represents significant energy loss while blue and green means that a home's roof insulation is up to snuff. The idea is that homeowners will take appropriate, money-saving measures if they see that heat is escaping through their roof. And, of course a bit of healthy competition can come into play since there's nothing stopping a user from typing in a neighbor's address to see how they stack up when it comes to home energy efficiency.
So where exactly did these aerial images come from? Before Zoom Into Your Roof went live, a plane equipped with a thermographic scanner flew over an area of about 270 square miles, capturing the largest thermal map currently available to the public online. Giving the nature of the technology, the same kind that's used to detect home marijuana-growing operations, privacy issues are somewhat of a concern. Writes Discovery News
One drawback to the infrared approach is its potential to reveal some pretty private aspects of our homes, like that roof party that probably wasn't allowed. As Technology Review's Tom Simonite points out
, 'Some people may not like others to see any sign of what they are doing in the privacy of their own home. Outdated information may concern others.'
There's no doubt that thermal imaging can be extremely helpful when trying to pinpoint household energy loss — it's a pretty standard practice used by home energy auditors within a building. But what about thermal imaging of this magnitude that's not instigated by you? Does privacy trump the need to know that your rooftop is properly or inadequately insulated?
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