The recent cold snap, as well as what BC Hydro has dubbed the “thermostat wars” (see story on page 3 of this issue), probably has many people wondering how effective their home is when it comes to retaining heat, and what they can do to warm things up.
Thanks to a partnership between the Thompson-Nicola Regional Library (TNRL) system, the City of Kamloops, and Fortis BC, anyone who has a TNRL library card can take advantage of the new “See the Heat” program. It allows library members to borrow a FLIR thermal imaging camera and use it with their smartphones or iPads to see how well their home is insulated and sealed.
The program launched on Jan. 28, 2019, and Melissa Lowenberg, the TNRL’s manager of community libraries and engagement, says that it has been a huge success. “We already have 102 holds for the four android cameras, and 98 holds for the one Apple camera,” she tells The Journal. “It’s been such a tremendous response that we have more cameras on order.”
The cameras can be checked out at no cost for up to one week at any TNRL library. Lowenberg explains that users download a free app, then attach the camera to their smartphone or iPad and take pictures around their house of areas that might be leaking heat. The images show where heat is being lost, allowing homeowners to take steps to fix the problem(s).
“Warm air shows as warm colours (red/orange) and the blue colour shows colder air or heat loss,” says Lowenberg of the pictures taken by the camera. She adds that the camera can also be used to determine issues with air conditioning in summer.
“In the summer, with air conditioning, we’d expect the colours to reverse. I understand from Derek DeCandole, our partner at the City of Kamloops, that a 10° C temperature difference is needed to see the colours in the images.”
Lowenberg says that a modest draft-proofing kit—including items such as weather-stripping, plastic film, and foam inserts for outdoor electrical panels—is given to each person who checks out a camera, allowing them to do some small retro-fits.
“People get to keep all the pieces; they don’t have to return what they don’t use,” she says. “Fortis has provided the packages, and we encourage people to take before and after pictures. They really show the changes.”
Lowenberg notes that there has been interest from groups that were not originally considered. “Bee-keeping groups have been really interested. They want to know the temperature of their hives.”
She says that the initiative came out of a City of Kamloops program that was looking at different facilities. “They were doing an internal program for their facilities, looking for things like heat loss and water pipe weak spots. The program is winding down, so they shifted some of the equipment to us.”
The goal of this program is help build energy literacy in the community and to promote the www.efficiencyBC.ca website, which is a one-stop-shop for information on available rebates from the utilities and various levels of government for homeowners interested in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
“These thermal imaging cameras provide really striking images that make the somewhat abstract concept of heat loss more tangible for people,” says Glen Cheetham, the sustainability services supervisor for the City of Kamloops. “We hope this hope motivates improvements to home energy efficiency.”
Not only will increased energy efficiency save homeowners money and improve the comfort of their homes, it will help to advance climate change efforts.
“This program fits well with our mandate to continually offer new and interesting opportunities for our clientele, and partnering with the City of Kamloops to work towards reducing our collective greenhouse gas emissions is a natural fit,” says Lowenberg. “And the Regional District is committed to reducing our carbon footprint.”
For more information about the program visit http://bit.ly/2SoF75z.