Vancouver Is Now Scanning To Find Homes That Suck Energy

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Heat vision goggles aren't just a trick for finding bad guys in the movies. The City of Vancouver will be using thermal imaging to find a different culprit — homes that aren't energy efficient.

A thermal imaging pilot program will be launched in January, helping homeowners find ways to save energy.

The program will scan homes in five neighbourhoods (Dunbar-Southlands, Strathcona, Riley Park, Hastings Sunrise and Victoria Fraserview) at no cost to homeowners.

thermal imaging home
A thermal image shows the front of a house. Areas in yellow are warmer than areas in purple. (Photo: City of Vancouver)

The project will cost Vancouver about $100,000, or $6 per home, CTV News reported.

Cameras will help pinpoint exactly where homes are losing heat. The thermal images, energy-saving tips, and additional information on incentive programs will be mailed to homeowners.

“When a homeowner gets information … about how you conserve energy, they don’t necessarily register that as applying to them. And what we’ve seen is that a thermal image is a really effective way to get a homeowner to go: ‘Oh, this applies to me, because I can actually see my house and I can see that it’s not very efficient,’” Sean Pander, the city’s assistant director of sustainability, told the Vancouver Sun.

Those with privacy concerns can opt out of the program.

"... a thermal image is a really effective way to get a homeowner to go: 'Oh, this applies to me, because I can actually see my house and I can see that it's not very efficient.'" —Sean Pander

The city's green buildings coordinator says he hopes it will give homeowners an idea of where they can start improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

"This provides a starting point for homeowners ... as opposed to replacing all their windows, they can replace a couple," Chris Higgins told CBC's "The Early Edition."

According to Vancouver's website, 55 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the city come from buildings.

Vancouver isn't the first city to turn to thermal imaging as a green initiative.

A project called "MyHEAT," which was built with award-winning technology from the University of Calgary, uses aerial photography to heat map most cities in Alberta.

myheat calgary
A screengrab from the MyHEAT website shows homes near the University of Calgary, where this thermal imaging technology was built. Green homes are energy efficient, while red homes have some work to do. (MyHEAT.ca)

The website allows homeowners to pull up their address and view exactly where their home is losing heat. They can also view tips for how to better insulate their property.

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