The Office of Regulatory Staff- Energy Office is able to lend thermographic cameras, otherwise known as infrared (IR) cameras, to public entities to support energy conservation within the state as outside temperatures drop. Greater temperature differences between the inside and outside of conditioned buildings leads to more heat loss in the winter, so ensuring adequate heat resistance in building envelopes is an effective way to save heating energy and money. Most people would never recognize this energy loss without an IR camera— unless they carefully logged utility bills or sat near heating equipment listening for patterns.
An IR camera won’t let you “see” energy, but the tool will display an image based on energy in the form of electromagnetic waves emitted by objects. This smattering of colorful hues on the tool’s screen can inform the user of a hot surface or cold surface in relation to the surrounding surfaces.
Specific applications of IR cameras include identifying:
· Unwanted heat transfer through a building envelope due to damaged or missing insulation, or air leakage;
· Loose or corroded connections in electrical installations;
· Missing or damaged insulation on boiler installations;
· Overheating motors;
· Damaged or leaking water lines behind walls or under floors.
There are also less expensive and more readily available tools like infrared thermometers that can perform a similar function. These tools do not offer a camera-like image of temperatures but will give you a spot measurement, typically with the help of a laser sight.
In addition to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff – Energy Office, the Sustainability Institute in Charleston, SC, and most county code offices have IR cameras available for organizations to borrow. Contact Conn Fraser for more information about borrowing the cameras and instructions for their use.