As the depths of winter approach and the temperature fluctuates around freezing, people’s attention is turning to staying warm. But how efficient are some of the buildings in which we live and work at keeping the heat in?
Using a thermal imaging camera, Aberdeen inspection specialist Inspectahire has captured the centre of Aberdeen in a multi-colour hue. The camera can detect the thermal or infrared energy which all objects with a temperature higher than absolute zero (-273.15ºC) emit. This energy is invisible to the human eye because its wavelength is too long.
The brightest colour in the images shows where the greatest amount of heat is being lost from a building – this is usually through windows, doors or poorly insulated walls and roofs. It is particularly evident in older buildings which may not have double-glazed windows. While the best insulated parts of the building are shown in the dark blue.
With the price of energy increasing and accounting for a greater amount of household expenditure, and £1 in every £4 spent heating a house being wasted due to poor insulation, ensuring heat is retained in a building is more important than ever. It was estimated that in 2009, British homeowners wasted £500m due to poorly insulated properties.
It is not just homeowners who are facing these challenges, businesses are too.
Cailean Forrester, Inspectahire managing director, said: “Thermal imaging cameras detect the infrared energy that the buildings emit and then display this as a multi-coloured image. Surveying buildings in this way can help to pinpoint precisely where heat is being lost and then effectively channel resources to improve energy use, lower emissions and cut costs.
“Older homes weren’t built with insulation, but they did incorporate design features which tried to keep drafts out, such as wooden interior shutters which closed over the windows. Many of these are now stuck down by layers of paint, but freeing them and using them will help to minimise heat loss through this weak point. As can be seen in buildings with modern construction methods and materials, heat loss through windows isn’t such an issue.”
Thermography has a long history, although its use has increased dramatically with commercial and industrial applications over the past 50 years. Thermal imaging cameras have a range of uses and can be used to detect the potential spread of fires in buildings, as a predictive maintenance tool in the offshore industry, to screen staff for infectious viruses and for man-overboard incidents at night.