Massachusetts Captures Home Energy Waste

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A thermal image of a house.
In Massachusetts, getting residents to pay attention to their energy use was as simple as a snapshot. The Department of Energy Resources (DOER) equipped a hybrid SUV with a thermal imaging system. In 2011, the vehicle traveled through seven communities and performed thermal scans of the approximately 40,000 homes it passed. To allay privacy concerns, DOER conducted legal research and public outreach, briefing town officials to let them know when the scans would be happening and exactly what would be scanned. DOER provided homeowners with an opt-out option, but the department found that many homeowners instead asked to make sure their homes did get scanned, prompting DOER to also create a priority list.

Infrared scanning produces thermal images that allow homeowners to see where opportunities exist in their homes for energy improvements. Homeowners are able to view their homes' thermal image analysis results on a secure website, and those who view their results are eligible for a no-cost energy efficiency assessment from DOER's Mass Save® program.

The thermal scans are quite revealing. While a relatively new home may appear to be well maintained, a thermal scan can expose problems such as missing insulation or air leaking from single-pane windows. Assessing visual scans can motivate homeowners to take the next step of getting their home professionally assessed for energy efficiency opportunities. Learn more about DOER's thermal scanning process and how it has helped Massachusetts homeowners save energy.