In November 2014 the Montmorency Community Group started a project to help community members improve the thermal efficiency of their homes. This was based on a project already being run around Brighton.
Banyule Council was approached through their Environmental Sustainability Grants and they contributed $5,000 towards a thermal camera. The camera is taken to the homes of community members and used to detect hot and cold spots within the house. Normally this is done on a winter’s morning when the outside temperature is at least 8 degrees cooler than inside, although it can also be done when it is 8 degrees hotter outside.
Any cold spots showing up on walls or ceilings indicate areas where insulation has not been installed correctly. It can also be used to detect draughts. The most common problems found are manholes that have not been insulated, and ceiling insulation that has been removed to lay power cables. It can also detect water leaks in a roof that has damaged insulation.
The images are used to show how windows lose a lot of energy and the benefits of curtains. This can then be used as an introduction to discuss other ways of saving energy such as hot water services, fridges and solar panels.
There is a $20 fee to cover maintenance on the camera and so far we have conducted over 80 home assessments.
An unexpected use of the camera is in our Sugar Glider nesting box project. We have installed 100 nesting boxes around Montmorency and check them regularly by visiting each box and looking inside. We found that we can use the camera to detect a warm spot on the bottom of a box if there is a sugar glider present.
If anyone wants information to organise a similar project, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Cuthbertson, Montmorency Community Group Feb 2018