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The Cold Spotter

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Even during a mild winter, like we’ve seen this year, hot air in your home can leak out, and cold air can seep in. It’s called air infiltration, and it can drive your energy way up. But a tool heating and air companies are just starting to utilize could help point out where you’re losing energy and money in your house.

Aeremy Porter and her husband work hard to bring home the bacon, and, like most homeowners, a large portion of the Porters’ income goes to the power company each month.

“I’d say that’s probably one of the biggest,” says Aeremy.

She agreed to let us use her home to test a tool Shon Peterman says can help bring energy bills way down.

“That is called an FLIR thermal imager – stands for Forward Looking Infrared,” says Peterman.

In other words, it is a heat sensor from which an image is pointing out areas where hot air is escaping and cold air is seeping through.

“And that’s the enemy of home comfort,” Peterman says.

Peterman says the technology just became available for use in the heating and air industry in the last couple of years. Before that, checking for problem spots wasn’t done.

Peterman says, "Oh, it's made it considerably more thorough…because before it existed, it was completely neglected. Nobody thought about air infiltration."

He checked the Porter house from top to bottom, in search of air infiltration.

“Exposed wood has a giant temperature difference,” Peterman says.

He found a few trouble areas that he says are common energy loss zones in every home.

Peterman says, "Where the ceiling and the wall meet, that line is where we can identify quite a bit of air infiltration, you can look where it's all red, all red, except for that one blue line."

"It was interesting to me to see that really at the crux of the house where the ceiling and the wall meet I really couldn't believe that that would be a place where air would escape," Aeremy says.

Aside from just pointing out the hot and cold problem spots in the house, the camera also gave homeowners a heads-up that it’s time to replace the heater.

The breach may be warmer than the surrounding area, so you can see the temperature difference, and it helps to identify when a heat exchanger is going to fail, where otherwise, your naked eye would not be able to see it.

Peterman says the advanced warning gives homeowners a chance to budget for a new heater before it breaks. As for the Porter home’s problem zones, Peterman says there is a simple and affordable solution.

He says, "Usually can be easily fixed with caulking and insulation."

He also says just a few simple fixes around the house could bring the Porter family energy bill down every month, saving them a little green just by pointing out the blue and red.

If you are interested in finding the energy loss zones in your home, we found most heating and air companies that use the infrared cameras will do a sweep of your home for free if you plan on hiring the company to put in the installation to fix the problems.

You can buy or rent your own infrared camera to do your own sweep of your home, and if you qualify, the Kansas Weatherization Assistance Program improves the energy efficiency in homes for lower income families. We have their contact information on our web channel.

Parrish Alleman