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It’s January and we are finally experiencing the bitter cold of the Yukon. You might be having trouble staying warm lately. Did you know that even at -30°C, a building can be warm and cozy despite the cold outside without the need of a constant roaring fire or huge bills. If your home or building isn’t as comfortable or efficient as you would like, you need the proper tool to find opportunities to improve comfort and efficiency.

You may not be aware, but there is a cool tool out there that can spot problems of all kinds. This tool is a thermal imaging camera. It is used to find inefficiencies in buildings and to diagnose the performance of mechanical and electrical equipment.

During these cold winter days I can use my thermal imaging camera to spot all kinds of issues with buildings that can lead to cost-effective repairs and significant energy savings. If you are finding it difficult to keep your home or commercial building comfortable, now is the best time to do a thermal imaging inspection. Note that thermal inspections can detect issues as long as the outside air temperature is below 0°C, however colder temperatures make diagnosing problems easier.

For the home owner, thermal imaging is a great way to know where to focus your renovation dollars.

If you are associated with a First Nation Development Corp, Government or Community; these assessments can help provide the foundation for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. At this time, Yukon Economic Development has grant money available to First Nation Development Corporations and communities to assist with implementing renewable energy projects.

As the project manager who specified, procured and oversaw the 50kW solar installation and super-insulated attendant shack at the Mount Lorne transfer station (the largest solar installation in the Yukon to date), I have an in depth knowledge of how to get these types of projects done. This project was designed and intended to become part of the Yukon Energy small power producer program. The project is net-positive and produces approximately $8000 worth of electricity annually above and beyond what the transfer station uses. Project owners participating in the small producers program can receive a rebate from Yukon Energy for excess energy produced.

A well designed and executed project should pay for itself through energy savings while creating local jobs that directly benefit the community. The key to savings is through proper planning and by leveraging energy efficiency and renewable energy.

I’m very interested in working to make other projects like Mt. Lorne a reality so that more communities can move towards energy self sufficiency. Thermal imaging and third party commissioning are essential for making these types of projects cost effective and successful.

What is thermography and why is it interesting?

Thermography or thermal graphic imaging is when the heat of an object or objects is detected by a thermal imaging camera and displayed as an image or video. A special type of camera commonly called a “thermal camera” or “thermal imaging camera” is necessary to capture or display a thermal image.


A good thermal imaging camera can detect very small differences in temperature which allows for better diagnoses of issues. This gif shows how the heat from my hand is transferred to a gyproc interior wall.

Thermal graphic images are interesting because the temperature of an object or objects within the frame are displayed and measurable within the image. Thermal images can tell you a great deal about the object which is not detectable by the human eye. Be careful though, thermal imaging cameras are not point-and-shoot devices. Materials of different kinds reflect, transmit and absorb heat in unique ways. For this reason it’s important that the person operating the thermal camera have sufficient training and background in the field.

Why is Thermography useful?

In construction, thermography is incredibly useful because it can quickly and easily demonstrate flaws in a construction assembly. These flaws are commonly seen as cold or hot spots which indicate a lack of insulation in a particular location. They can also show the location of invading insects, mold or potentially where water damage has occurred.

When commissioning a building or piece of equipment, thermography is very useful for determining the condition of a wall assembly or equipment such as radiant panels, radiant heating loops, electrical connections etc.


This image is of a standard exterior wall that has insulation deficiencies. Insulation deficiencies can cause drafts, mold, discomfort and long term damage. The vertical purple lines are studs. The dark purple areas along the studs are poorly insulated and may have air leakage. These areas are where mold is likely to grow. These areas feel colder to anyone near them. From the temperature scale on the left of the image you can see that the purple areas are approximately 12°C where yellow areas are 20°C to 24°C.

When designing a building, an understanding of heat flow through construction assemblies is amplified by a good understanding of thermography. If you have seen or can envision the building assembly in the manner in which a thermal camera would, it makes designing for energy efficiency much simpler. I hope that in the future, all architects, designers and builders take courses in thermal imaging and utilize that understanding while designing and constructing wall, floor and roof assemblies. This would help to reduce energy usage and prevent many problems of the past and present.

While conducting an energy audit, thermal imaging can show problem areas and places to fix first. You can think of thermal imaging as a tool to discover the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency. Below are a couple more images to demonstrate what a thermal camera is useful for.


This image demonstrates how cold air can creep down a wall when a window is poorly installed. The dark purple areas of the thermal image show how the wall is cold and drafty. This wall is poorly insulated because the warm areas of the wall are only 17°C with the cold parts 8°C. A well insulated wall would be room temperature or approximately 22°C. Can you see how this costs the owner in both comfort and dollars?


Here a structural beam is poorly insulated around connection points to the roof and is acting as a large thermal bridge. The purple areas indicate heat loss because of heat flow through the construction assembly.

Thermography demonstrates “Thermal Bridging”

Thermal images can also demonstrate the concept of “thermal bridging”. Thermal bridging is where materials of a construction assembly conduct heat at different rates due to their physical properties. Wooden studs and metal beams are common thermal bridges that can waste significant energy in buildings. Many people in construction fail to pay attention to thermal bridging even though eliminating thermal bridging is an important key to an energy efficient building envelope.

Did you know that wood and wooden studs conduct heat 3 times as well as fiberglass batts, the cheapest and most common form of insulation? For less thermally conductive insulation types such as spray foam, wood conducts 5 to 7 times more heat per unit of thickness. Metal based construction creates the potential for even more energy loss due to thermal bridging because metal conducts heat much better than wood. If you are trying to reduce fossil fuel usage/heat loss, it’s important to eliminate thermal bridging as much as possible.

Thermal bridging is not something that most people can picture without seeing it first hand. This is why I shot this creative video to demonstrate thermal bridging.

How can Thermography help me save money?

If you know what your target is, aiming for the target is much easier. Thermal imaging makes otherwise invisible targets very obvious. As part of a thermal inspection, I can capture images and create a detailed report(s) to give to contractors or for the purposes of finding funding to fix issues that are found during the inspection.

When it comes to solving issues related to energy efficiency, thermal graphic imaging is a quick and easy way to spot your best targets. These are the low hanging fruit and often the best opportunities for improvement with regard to reducing energy usage and diagnosing problems.

If you are experiencing drafts or cold areas within your home or building, thermography can definitely assist with detecting problems and providing solutions. When performing commissioning or an energy audit, it is recommended to hire someone who has been trained to take and interpret thermal images as part of the project .

Learn More About Thermal Imaging Here

What Now?

I’m currently looking to utilize my diverse skill set to help building owners, decision makers and communities become more energy efficient and sustainable. I would be happy to help you as an owners representative, commissioning agent, educator or project manager to help your team specify your project and verify that it meets your needs by working with other consultants, construction teams, operators and decision makers.

I only have so much time, so if you’re serious about ensuring that your projects are Future Proof™, please contact me today.

Thanks for reading! I hope that this post and the links within it have been valuable to you! If you know someone who would find value from reading this, please send it to them.

Let’s Future Proof™ our buildings and society to build a better world for our children.