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Thermal imaging camera

Available for St Albans District residents to borrow during the winter months FREE

Information sessions run each winter see our Events pages to book.

Please sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear of new sessions.

Why borrow a thermal imaging camera?

A thermal imaging camera enables you to see heat leaking or cold air entering your house by taking colour-coded images highlighting temperature differences.

The camera can highlight insufficient loft insulation, gaps in floorboards, draughty windows and badly fitted loft hatches. These areas allow warmth to escape, meaning you use more fuel to keep your house warm. See our case studies for more information and ideas of how they have been used in local buildings along with advice on what to do next, and also our blog page for blog articles relating to using the thermal imaging cameras in homes, schools and community buildings and reducing heat loss at home.

How the information sessions work

We run information sessions from Oct/Nov to March/April each year on Zoom. The sessions last up to an hour and cover how to use the camera, what the camera might show you and how to borrow the camera. See our events page to book your place on an information session. Following the session, you will be able to book a time slot to collect the camera. We also have a SSA Thermal Imaging Project facebook page where camera users can share their experiences and findings.

See below for information on #borrowing_our_cameras. The cameras are available for residents of the St Albans District to borrow the camera, it is free to borrow a camera although donations towards the running costs for the camera project are always welcome! The camera is not generally available to those living outside the district. A £200 security deposit cheque (or electronic payment) is required. The deposit cheque is destroyed (or payments refunded) once the camera is returned in working order.

What do you find out using the camera?  

What can I do about a cold hallway?

A vintage front door with single glazed glass panels is shown to be register cooler sections. Fitting a thermal portia curtain shows a much warmer and consistent impact on the temperature inside: the images show a door before and after a thermal portia door curtain had been fitted.

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.

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. 

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!  

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.

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.

Check insulation

The dark areas of the image show areas with no insulation that could be investigated.

Thermal Imaging Camera - Grove House - Loft insulation

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.  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!

Draughts coming up between your floorboards?

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Keeping draughts at bay

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.  

Quick, low cost ways to reduce your energy consumption include:

  1. Closing the doors of rooms you don’t use.
  2. 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!
  3. Turning off devices, especially at night.
  4. Putting foil behind your radiators to reflect the heat back into the room.
  5. Ensuring you have a letter box that doesn’t allow heat to escape.
  6. Use your appliances less: for example doing full loads of washing/dishwashing; using a clothes line to dry clothes.
  7. 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

  1. When replacing appliances check the energy ratings before you buy. 
  2. 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.
  3. Insulate your loft.
  4. Install or top up cavity wall insulation or install solid wall insulation.
  5. Install solar panels (check out Solar Streets).
  6. Install a heat pump (particularly if you already have underfloor heating).

Further resources

  1. Stay Warm for Less. A very readable booklet giving you lots of ideas step by step on what you can do to Stay Warm for Less
  2. Energy Savings Trust.  Their website provides information about saving energy.
  3. Energy Saving Trust Insulation Guide
  4. Energy Savings Trust Draught Proofing Guide
  5. Centre for Sustainable Energy DIY Draught-Proofing Guide
  6. Centre for Sustainable Energy loft insulation
  7. Centre for Sustainable Energy cavity wall insulation
  8. Cambridge Carbon Footprint website has useful resources relating to thermal imaging cameras and also more generally about reducing energy use.
  9. 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.
  10. St Albans District Council website also has useful advice including information about grants and measures to improve energy efficiency.
  11. 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.
  12. Simple information on this and other grants and payments and energy saving measures can be found on the government Simple Energy Advice website

Borrowing our Thermal Imaging Cameras

Booking information can be found on our Events pages. Please note the Harpenden and St Albans cameras are different. The district’s residents can borrow either camera, however you need to attend the information for the camera that you wish to borrow.

We also have a SSA Thermal Imaging Project facebook page where camera users can share their experiences and findings.

Borrowing the HARPENDEN Thermal Imaging Camera

We lend the HARPENDEN thermal imaging camera out FROM addresses in AL5. See our Events pages for dates and to book. Please note there are only 8 places at each session – if you can no longer attend, please cancel by Eventbrite or advise us ASAP so that someone else can have that place.

Before you attend the session please read the information pack (links below). These contain a short User Guide, terms for borrowing the camera, deposit arrangements and procedures for collection and returning the camera.

Borrowing the ST ALBANS Thermal Imaging Camera

We lend the ST ALBANS thermal imaging camera out FROM addresses in AL1 and AL4.  See our Events pages for dates and to book. Please note there are only 8 places at each session – if you can no longer attend, please cancel by Eventbrite or advise us ASAP so that someone else can have that place.

Before you attend the session please read the information pack (links below). These contain a short User Guide, terms for borrowing the camera, deposit arrangements and procedures for collection and returning the camera.

Borrowing the COMMUNITY Thermal Imaging Camera

We have a community camera that we loan to schools and community groups for a week at time. Please use the contact form below to contact us about borrowing the community camera.

Already attended an information session? Want to borrow the camera again? Or want to contact use about the Community camera?

The camera are best used when temperatures are low (usually between October and March), though they have also been used in other months to eg find hot water leaks.

Over 150 people borrowed one of our cameras over 2022-23 and many more have borrowed one over the last 9 years!  If you have borrowed the camera before and want to do so again to see the impact of changes you have made, get in touch using the form below.  It will help our volunteers if you can include details of when you attended an Information Session.

How to use our cameras

With thanks to our local Herts County Councillors

Sustainable St Albans has three thermal imaging cameras that residents can borrow.  One camera is based in Harpenden, one in St Albans and the third one is made available to schools and community groups accross the district.

We are grateful to Herts County Councillors Teresa Heritage (Harpenden), Geoff Churchard (Sandridge), Robert Prowse (St Albans East) and Sandy Walkington (St Albans South) for grants in 2014 and 2015/16 to enable us to purchase our first two cameras.