Reduce your home energy consumption – use a thermal imaging camera just like the professionals do!
At Sustainable St Albans, we have two thermal imaging cameras for loan. They have been borrowed by over 300 people across the district over the last six years. The volunteers who run this project have written this short blog to explain more about the camera, and what you can discover if you use it!
So, what do you find out using the camera?
You can learn where heat is escaping around your home..
Maybe around windows or doors, or through letter boxes?
Maybe through the roof?
Or maybe your radiator is directing more of its heat output towards the outside?
Or where the cavity wall insulation in your home has dropped (or wasn’t installed)
Case Studies – take a look at what residents have discovered…
Case Study 1 – What can I do about a cold hallway?
You’ve got a front door, with single glazed glass panels, it’s really (really) old and you don’t want to replace it (or maybe you’re in a listed building). The camera showed us how cold the front door was (and we could feel the draughts too!) After fitting a thermal portia curtain it was great to see the impact, using the camera – although most importantly we could tell as the hall was no longer cold!
Case Study 2 – My radiators don’t seem to be keeping my house warm
Not sure that your radiators are heating up your home as much as they should do, or as much as they used too?
Use the camera to check whether your radiator is heating the outside wall. Radiators on external walls can often direct the heat outside. Reduce heat loss by putting foil behind your radiators to reflect the heat back into your home; radiator foil is available from DIY stores though kitchen foil does a good job too!
Heat escaping through the wall
This image taken from outside shows heat escaping through the house wall (no cavity wall) from a radiator (left hand side of image below the window). Note the camera was set to a different colour scheme for this image.
Are your radiators working properly?
You can use the camera to detect radiators that have partially silted up and need flushing out. In this image the dark area of the image is where the water is not circulating in the radiator
Case Study 3 – Are you heating the roof or the outside?
Maybe heat is escaping through your roof? The camera can show you whether your loft hatch is insulated and you can see loft areas with inadequate insulation, to be investigated.
The dark areas of the image below show areas with no insulation to be investigated
Check your loft-hatch
Have loft insulation but there are still draughts? Check to see if your loft-hatch has been insulated. You can also try to prevent those small drafts around you loft-hatch by using draught proofing tape. The image here shows a loft that has been insulated with an uninsulated loft hatch.
This image shows the effect of an un-insulated loft hatch compared with the surrounding insulated roof.
Stop heat going up the chimney
Put a chimney balloon up any chimney that is not being used. Remember to take them out again should you decide to use your chimney!
Case study 4 – Draughts coming up between your floorboards?
If you have wooden floorboards (particularly those in older houses that are laid directly on beams), you can reduce heat loss by filling the gaps between and around them with an acrylic sealant or with tubing that you can put between the gaps.
Image showing where Gap sealer had been fitted in the lower part of the image but not the upper part.
Timber floors can also be insulated by lifting the floorboards and laying mineral wool insulation supported by netting between the joists. Gaps between floor boards and skirting boards are also an area where heat can be lost; DIY stores have a variety of options for filling gaps. Using rugs or carpet also helps to reduce heat loss.
And… after you’ve been to one of our information sessions and borrowed the camera, how could you reduce your energy consumption?
Quick, low cost ways to reduce your energy consumption include:
- Closing the doors of rooms you don’t use.
- Closing curtains and blinds at dusk, even in rooms you’re not using. If you have long curtains over a radiator, tuck the curtains behind the radiator (so as not to heat the window) or, better still, shorten the curtains!
- Turning off devices especially at night.
- Fitting a chimney balloon.
- Putting foil behind your radiators to reflect the heat back into the room.
- Ensuring you have a letter box that doesn’t allow heat to escape.
- Use your appliances less: for example doing full loads of washing/dishwashing; using a clothes line to dry clothes.
- Turning your heating down slightly and adjusting thermostats on your radiators.
.. methods that cost a little more or require a bit of DIY include:
- Fitting a door curtain.
- Flushing out radiators that aren’t working properly.
- Draught proofing your door by fitting draught seals.
- Prevent draughts through letter boxes by fitting a cover/brush and through keyholes by fitting a keyhole cover.
- If you have a catflap, you can fit insulation or a blanket flap.
- Insulating your loft hatch
- Lagging hot water tanks and water pipes.
.. and then there are the more significant ways to reduce your energy consumption
- When replacing appliances check the energy ratings before you buy.
- Upgrade your windows to double (ideally triple) glazing. Less costly options are to cover them in a clear plastic film (available at DIY shops) that tightens over the pane when heated with a hairdryer.
- Insulate your loft.
- Install or top up cavity wall insulation or install solid wall insulation.
- Install solar panels (check out Solar Streets).
- Install a heat pump (particularly if you already have underfloor heating).
The Sustainable St Albans website provides information to help you reduce your energy consumption .. and your fuel bills and carbon footprint.
How do I borrow the Thermal Imaging Camera?
If you live in the district of St Albans you can borrow one of Sustainable St Albans two Thermal Imaging Cameras to see where heat is leaking from your house – it’s free. See our web page here to join a free information session and borrow a thermal imaging camera.
- Energy Savings Trust. Their website provides information about saving energy.
- Energy Saving Trust Insulation Guide
- Energy Savings Trust Draught Proofing Guide
- Centre for Sustainable Energy DIY Draught-Proofing Guide
- Centre for Sustainable Energy loft insulation
- Centre for Sustainable Energy cavity wall insulation
- Cambridge Carbon Footprint website has useful resources relating to thermal imaging cameras and also more generally about reducing energy use.
- Green our Herts website provides resources to help you make your home greener, as well as other information relating to reducing carbon use more generally.
- St Albans District Council website also has useful advice including information about grants and measures to improve energy efficiency.
- Find out more about the Green Homes Grant 2020, with thanks to AECOM St Albans’ volunteer, this includes a list of local suppliers for insulation measures, and also suppliers of solar, heat humps and biomass boilers.
- Simple information on this and other grants and payments and energy saving measures can be found on the government Simple Energy Advice website
- St Albans’ Solar Streets is a community solar project – district wide across St Albans, Harpenden and villages – for all home-owners and businesses to get discounted solar installations.