Here’s how it works:
The Heatseekers teams set out — during the winter at night when homes generally have the heat cranked up — in one of seven specially modified detection vans and cruise slowly up and down residential streets. Using a special thermal camera, they snap photographs of private homes. The resulting multicolored snapshots display heat leaking from specific parts of a home like windows, roofs, chimneys and garage doors. Whites, reds and yellows indicate a significant amount of heat exiting a home while blues and greens signal that the air around the home is cold and that little heat is escaping from the building. The team records the images — around 1,000 homes can be scanned in an hour when the van travels at 10 miles per hour — and then single out the greatest offenders, usually homes with no or improper insulation (check out this video to see the Heatseekers team in action).
After this, energy advisors take the photographic evidence along with them for a face-to-face visit with the unsuspecting homeowners. This doesn't take place that night, of course. During the consultation, the advisors provide energy-saving options, many of them government-founded programs. Essentially, Heatseekers’ goal is to use tangible evidence, the thermal energy images, to make lackadaisical homeowners proactive when it comes to energy-efficiency. You can't just tell someone that their home is wasting energy left and right. You have to show them.
This tactic strikes me as being a tad confrontational, not to mention invasive, but as Heatseekers director Keith Hewitson points out, it’s all for the good of the homeowners:
"In the UK alone, there are probably eight million properties that require insulation of some sort. If you're looking at getting cavity wall insulation and good quality roof insulation, to a depth of about 250mm, you could save £200 to £300 per year on fuel bills."
I haven’t heard of local municipalities supporting similar efforts stateside. However, it isn't uncommon for homeowners, by their own volition, to hire companies providing thermal imaging as part of a home energy audit. I even stumbled across a Dayton, Ohio-based firm, also called Heatseekers, that provides a similar service as its U.K. counterpart (which by the way, is owned by Mark Group, a leading British insulation installer.)
Maybe those thermal detection vans will be crawling down Main Street USA sooner than we think…
Via [The Guardian]