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MIT’s Infrared Thermal Imagery System Detects Heat Leaks In Homes

By Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV
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(Photo from MIT)

(Photo from MIT)

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BOSTON (CBS) – It is a constant fight during the winter months to prevent warm air from seeping from our homes, but new high definition infrared thermal images are making it easier to detect where the leaks are.

“If the outside surface is hot that means heat is escaping so you look for hotspots,” said MIT Professor of Engineering Sanjay Sarma.

A new project led by Prof. Sarma uses a vehicle with a highly sensitive camera to scan large groups of buildings or even entire towns. The goal is to quickly identify the buildings most inefficient.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Joyce reports.

This technology is nothing new. Firefighters have been using thermal imaging cameras for years to find people trapped in burning buildings. MIT researchers have now taken this technology a step further to accurately determine the amount of heat loss coming from buildings.

“You can actually image heat. You can actually see where heat is leaking from buildings. If you can know what the temperature on the surface is, you can figure out if the building is retaining heat or not,” said Prof. Sarma.

The non-invasive aspect is a key difference from your typical home energy audit, which can take hours inspecting every part of the home.

“An energy audit serves certain purposes but it takes a long time. A picture speaks a thousand words. You can immediately see what the challenges are in this building and go fix it. You should actually be seeing dollar signs leaking out from those windows, which are hot. It is like dollars escaping. So you seal them, keep the heat in and save money,” Prof. Sarma.

Sarma believes simple fixes could save 10 to 20% off of most energy bills by making their home more energy efficient. City officials are now planning to scan nearly every square foot of Boston and become to the first major city in the US to utilize this technology for energy savings.

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