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What is Infrared Diagnostic Testing?

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

What is infrared diagnostic testing? It is one of the key components of an effective home energy audit, and is also referred to as infrared thermography. Infrared thermography (or thermal imaging) consists of a thorough inspection of a home to look for areas where air is leaking in and out, where insulation is missing or insufficient, and where moisture may be present behind walls and/or ceilings.

Thermal image from an infrared camera showing heat loss from damaged spray foam insulation
Thermal image from an infrared camera showing heat loss from damaged spray foam insulation

The inspector uses the infrared camera to look at the walls, windows/door, ceilings, and floors throughout the house. Thermal images are recorded and included within the Home Performance Report we provide.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a thermal image could very well be worth a thousand dollars or more, because it reveals the spots where your house is wasting energy (and money), and gives you clear directions for fixing them. Some of the imperfections in your home's thermal envelope will be obvious: around windows and doors, for example, but chances are there will be some big surprises too, and that's part of what makes thermal imaging so valuable. You might discover that the constant draft in your living room could be taken care of by sealing up all the recessed lights in the ceiling, or that your perennial ice dam could be forever prevented by insulating and air-sealing your attic floor.

One last thing to keep in mind when scheduling an energy audit with thermal imaging is that for best results there needs to be a temperature differential (delta T) between indoors and outdoors of at least 15-20 degrees. For example, in the summer time we prefer the outside temperature to be at least 85 degrees and turn down your A/C system to 70 or lower to reach a "delta T" of at least 15 degrees. In the winter time there's more of a natural temperature differential, so when it's 50 degrees or colder outside and your house is set to 70 we reach the 20 degree delta T we need to produce good quality thermal images.

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