As energy costs head skywards and governments continue to impose stricter regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, pressure is mounting on building construction and building inspections to fully comply.
In markets such as Australia where energy to heat and cool homes has traditionally been relatively cheap, energy costs are predicted to jump by upwards of 60% in the coming years.
This perfect storm has focused attention on build quality like never before and FLIR thermal imaging by independent building inspectors and professional thermographers is showing up a high incidence of building defects in newly built and old home where it is estimated up to 45% of total domestic energy costs are used to heat or cool.
Common is energy loss through improper installation of ceiling insulation, poor workmanship, inferior materials and ageing components most of which remain invisible to the naked eye and would pass conventional inspection process.
Thermal imaging is pinpointing many other issues such as:
- Heat loss
- Potential for mould
- Water damage
- Cold air infiltration
- Plumbing blockages
- Electrical service problems
- Moisture intrusion or condensation
- Missing or non-performing insulation in walls, ceilings & floors
- Poor electrical connections, fittings & overloaded circuits
Blair Freeman, Technical Consultant from Energy Leaks Australia, said the levels of compliance and general workmanship when it comes to HVAC installation in Australia needs to improve.
As energy costs bite into the average householder’s budget, people will look for ways to get those costs under control and one of the key ways is to demand a much more rigorous thermal audit as part of the build process, he said.
Using our newest FLIR E60bx IR camera with its Picture- in-Picture facility, seeing is believing. The camera’s ability to show a thermal image directly over the digital image gives an unequivocal assessment of what’s really going on behind those four walls and ceiling, he said.
Our Energy Audits check for air leakages especially windows and doors, poorly installed ceiling and wall insulation and even find no insulation at all. All of these make the building non-compliant until it is rectified.
There is a need to educate all trades to understand that even if a small portion of the building is not insulated correctly it can reduce the RT value of an area by more than 60%.
Often we are finding that ceiling insulation is not installed in the hard-to-get at places like the perimeter of a stud wall. Again this has to be rectified to make the building compliant and it all adds to the cost.
Like most things it’s a lot cheaper to do it right in the first place, Blair said.