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City launches thermal imaging pilot program

January 5 2017 Thermal imaging may provide the missing gap for single family home improvements

Thermal image of Science World

We are launching a thermal imaging pilot program to help single family homeowners identify heat loss and connect them with information on energy saving incentives that are available.

Recent research from both UBC and the University of Calgary has shown that thermal imaging of homes at a neighbourhood scale can be a reasonably accurate tool for identifying homes that can benefit from improved:

  • Insulation
  • Windows
  • Air tightness

We hope to draw from the experience that other cities have had using thermal imaging to help detached houses find opportunities for improving their energy efficiency. In addition to the research done by UBC and the University of Calgary, thermal imaging has been used by Detroit and several smaller cities in the state of Massachusetts. Europe, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, and London have all undertaken thermal imaging projects.

What is thermal imaging?

Thermal images can show homeowners where their homes are losing heat, and direct homeowners how to get an energy assessment and incentives to fix it.

Often in a thermal image, when:

  • Something is hot, the image is bright yellow
  • Something is cold, it shows up as dark blue
  • Heat is leaking from a home, it shows up as bright yellow

The image shows the temperature over the surface of a house but does not show anything inside the home.

This tool is a cost effective and non-invasive way to help homeowners quickly identify areas of their homes need that need to be updated. Depending on weather conditions, the imaging could begin as early as January 15, 2017.

Neighbourhood pilot program

The neighbourhoods that have been identified to pilot the program based on their location in the city are:

  • Strathcona
  • Hastings Sunrise
  • Dunbar-Southlands
  • Riley Park
  • Victoria Fraserview

The majority of homes are owner occupied and they represent a diversity of home ages.

We will be providing free thermal images to approximately 3,000 homes that have the greatest opportunity for energy savings. These homeowners will also be provided information on incentives offered by companies like BC Hydro and Fortis, to encourage them to retrofit their home and potentially save hundreds of dollars annually in heating bills.

Come to a drop-in session

Learn more about how thermal imaging can help you identify cost-effective home improvements by visiting one of the information drop-in sessions:

Monday, January 9, 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Hill Crest Community Centre
4575 Clancy Loranger Way, Room 328

Tuesday, January 10, 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Dunbar Community Centre
4747 Dunbar Street, Room 111 and 112

Wednesday, January 11, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Kensington Community Centre
5175 Dumfries Street, Seniors Lounge

Thursday, January 12, 5:00pm - 7:00 pm

Templeton Park Pool
700 Templeton Drive, Templeton Room

Energy Retrofit Strategy

In June, 2014, City Council approved an Energy Retrofit Strategy for Existing Buildings. This strategy guides our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use in existing buildings throughout Vancouver. Our goal of reducing GHGs from existing buildings by 20% from 2007 levels by 2020. Within the building sector, detached houses account for 31% of GHG emissions.

Detached houses are fairly uniform in terms of building design and equipment, meaning thermal imaging can provide quick, reliable information. There are approximately 77,000 detached houses in Vancouver, approximately 40,000 of which are pre-1960s homes — it is these homes that have the most to gain from the thermal imaging program.