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Thermal imaging reveals home energy waste

Jamie Hunt uses thermal imaging technology to see where air is either escaping or coming into a home.

Jamie Hunt uses thermal imaging technology to see where air is either escaping or coming into a home.

Jamie Hunt is not a Crime Scene Investigator, but he does use some high-tech tools to find energy thieves.

Hunt’s family business, Denver Hunt Co., LLC, of Maryville specializes in siding, windows, patio rooms and enclosures. But more than just adding-on and sprucing up, the company offers thermal imaging to their menu of services to find ways to save homeowners real dollars, said Hunt.

“I started researching thermal imaging in October of 2007. We had been working on one home in particular in Knoxville where we had taken the siding off and a whole wall was rotten,” said Hunt. “I said, ‘There has to be a way to detect some of this.’”

Hunt said he started doing web searches and found out about thermal imagining. “It is an X-ray for the home. I bought our imager in February 2008 and took the first Level 1 class in April of 2008,” he said.

Since then Hunt has completed more advanced training courses to learn how to better use the imager. The apparatus is specialized, based on how it will be used, whether in building diagnostics, electrical or mechanical fields, he said.

“Basically how thermal imaging works is by showing us what our eyes can’t see. Our eyes are detectors and see a different wavelength than what thermal imaging detects. We can see different things. What I learned is that colors really don’t exist in the way we think they exist,” he said. “Each thing takes on a certain amount of wavelengths, then some are absorbed and some are reflected back out.”

Hunt said when sunlight hits a piece of glass or a mirror or light hits a mirror, it reflects back off it. “It’s the same with any material. A certain amount of wavelength is bounced back off and emitted,” he said. “That is what our eyes see, but infrared energy we can not see. It’s a different wavelength. Thermal imaging detects wavelengths of heat energy and breaks it down into colors which we associate with different temperatures.”

Hunt said every type of material emits a certain amount of energy. “If you lose heat you see that heat detected from the outside. Heat always goes to coldest area,” he said.

Hunt said the imager can detect cold spots on a wall, around an electric plug-in, a baseboard, a window or a door. “You see cold spots which tells you where you are losing energy.”

Hunt said most people are concerned with energy costs in homes mainly in the winter. “In the summer, it is just as important because you’re paying money to cool your home, not the outside area,” said Black. “It is not thought about as much but it is just as important in the summer. You’re gaining just as much heat in the summer as you’re losing in winter. It just reverses the effect, and you’re paying for it both ways.”

Hunt said he uses the thermal imager to see the integrity of a home’s building envelope. “You really need to seal your home off first. Most people think they need more insulation. Many times what is needed is to seal the envelope of the home first and then insulate,” he said. “That’s the best way to do it.”

Leslie and Jeff Woodall of Blount County saw first-hand how Denver Hunt’s energy evaluation using thermal imaging could save them money.

“After talking with Jaime at a homebuilders’ meeting, I told him our electric bill was sky high. He told me about the energy evaluation and how what he could find could save us money,” Leslie Woodall said.

The couple learned they didn’t have insulation above one of the bedrooms in the house. “It has always been either our hottest or coldest room in the house. Instead of being smart about it and thinking something must be wrong, we lived here nine years without checking,” she said. “It was in an area in attic that’s not very accessible. After Jamie did the thermal imaging, we realized there wasn’t enough insulation.”

Woodall said they also found other areas where there had been insulation that had moved or shifted. “We learned a lot, and our electric bill went down a lot after the changes were made with the information he provided,” she said.

Hunt said they offer thermal imaging energy evaluations as a good way to save money on utility bills.

“The service by itself is an energy evaluation. It is not a home inspection,” he said. “There is about a two and a half hour turn around. Usually I can have an answer back in a day, and the customer gets all the images that were taken.”

For more information call 865-984-9310 or visit www.denverhunt.com.

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