It’s no surprise that the cost of heating and cooling a home is top of mind for homeowners. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average household spends at least $2,000 a year on energy bills – over half of which goes to heating and cooling costs.
As homeowners look to save money on their energy bills, we’ve outlined two options for identifying air leaks and temperature changes as part of an at-home energy audit. These options include:
- Hire a Professional: While it can be costly, a professional energy contractor can thoroughly examine a home and provide tips and solutions on what can be done to combat energy inefficiencies.
- Do it Yourself: If hiring a professional is out of the question, homeowners can examine both the interior and exterior of the home on their own. One way homeowners can quickly and accurately check for leaks and temperature changes is to use an IR thermometer. While professional contractors frequently use these tools, homeowners can purchase IR thermometers at stores such as Lowe’s and The Home Depot at a great value.
But what should you—as a contractor or homeowner—look for when purchasing an IR thermometer? There are three standout features to examine when looking at this new technology and considering home heating loss.
- Distance spot ratio is key for accuracy. A 12:1 ratio is quite suitable and will ensure the tool is accurately displaying the temperature changes around the home. Though it sounds complicated most quality IR thermometers have a 12:1 distance to spot ratio which simply means that 12 inches away from a surface the IR thermometer will take an average reading within a one inch circle and provide a temperature reading that will fluctuate within two degrees. Some lower price units have an 8:1 distance to spot ratio, which means you would have to get closer to get the same accuracy.
- The ability to store readings is also important. This allows you to record measurements in different locations or remember readings in hard-to-reach areas.
- A third feature to consider is a temperature indicator beam. This indicator allows the easy identification of temperature changes in a room. The color of the beam changes when a difference in temperature is detected as it’s scanned across an area. For example, a green beam could be the reference point, a blue beam could identify a cool spot, and a red beam could show a hot spot.
PORTER-CABLE recently launched two IR thermometers that are compatible with 18V lithium-ion or NiCd batteries and a 9V alkaline battery. These options address the features above and provide an attractive price point for homeowners and contractors.
So you picked your tool. Now what? While inside the home, use the IR thermometer to investigate around windows and doors, the attic hatch, fans, vents and electrical outlets to determine home energy loss. These are the most common areas where energy leaks occur. Note the areas where you find vast temperature changes and use caulk, weatherstripping, insulation, or spray foam to address the problems. Be sure to check your local or state code requirements to get a better idea on insulation thickness. You can also use ENERGY STAR as a reliable resource.
Do you have some additional weatherizing tips to share? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.