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How Does Thermal Imaging Help Specify Retrofits?


In the evolving landscape of energy efficiency and sustainable construction, the role of advanced diagnostic tools cannot be overstated. Among these, thermal imaging technology is a critical ally for professionals in specifying retrofitting solutions. At EWI Pro, thermal imaging and modelling form a cornerstone of our services, offering a transformative approach to enhancing building performance. This blog delves into the mechanics of thermal imaging and its pivotal role in retrofitting processes.

How does thermal imaging work?

Thermal imaging operates on the principle that all objects emit infrared energy or heat as a function of their temperature. This infrared energy is invisible to the naked eye but can be detected and measured by thermal cameras. These sophisticated devices convert infrared radiation into electrical signals, which are then processed to visually represent temperature differences across surfaces — a thermal image or thermogram.

The colours in a thermogram represent different temperatures. Warmer areas are depicted in shades of red, orange, and yellow and cooler areas in blues and purples. This colour mapping allows an intuitive understanding of a building’s thermal characteristics, revealing heat loss or gain patterns otherwise hidden from view.

Thermal cameras are equipped with infrared sensors sensitive to wavelengths of thermal radiation. These sensors can detect minute differences in temperature, often to fractions of a degree. The sophistication of these sensors allows for high-precision detection of thermal anomalies, making thermal imaging a powerful diagnostic tool.

The process of capturing a thermal image is non-invasive. It can be conducted from a distance, making it an ideal method for surveying buildings without direct contact or disruption to occupants. This aspect is particularly beneficial in evaluating the thermal performance of large buildings or structures that are difficult to access.

thermal imaging

Why is it an essential tool for retrofitting?

  1. Identifying Thermal Bridging and Leakage: Thermal bridges, where heat is transferred more readily through the fabric of a building, are critical points of energy loss. Similarly, air leakage through unsealed joints or gaps can significantly impact a building’s thermal efficiency. Thermal imaging allows us to visually identify these problematic areas, guiding the design of retrofit solutions that target these specific weaknesses.
  2. Assessing Insulation Performance: Proper insulation is key to maintaining a building’s thermal envelope. Over time, insulation may settle, degrade, or become compromised, leading to reduced effectiveness. Through thermal imaging, we can assess the current performance of existing insulation, pinpointing areas that require improvement or replacement.
  3. Improving HVAC Efficiency: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are major contributors to a building’s energy consumption. Thermal imaging helps identify inefficiencies in these systems, such as uneven heating or cooling distribution or locating leaks in ductwork. These insights enable us to specify retrofits that enhance HVAC performance, leading to energy savings and improved comfort.
  4. Supporting Sustainable Building Practices: By facilitating targeted retrofits, thermal imaging aligns with sustainable building practices. It allows for the conservation of resources by ensuring that retrofitting efforts are directed where they are most needed, avoiding unnecessary overhauls and minimising waste.
  5. Ensuring Cost-Effective Solutions: Thermal imaging provides a detailed understanding of a building’s thermal behaviour. This knowledge enables property owners and project managers to make informed decisions about retrofitting investments. These prioritising actions offer the highest return on investment regarding energy savings and performance improvements.

Our specification services – thermal imaging, WUFI, and Psi

At EWI Pro, we harness the power of thermal imaging and modelling to offer bespoke retrofitting solutions. Our approach begins with a comprehensive thermal assessment, using state-of-the-art imaging equipment to capture detailed thermal profiles of buildings. This data forms the basis of our retrofitting specifications, ensuring each solution is tailored to address the specific thermal challenges identified.

Our comprehensive approach combines the immediate visual insights thermal imaging provides with the predictive power of WUFI and Psi modelling. This combination allows us to diagnose existing issues and anticipate future challenges. Consequently, the retrofitting solutions are both proactive and resilient.

  1. Initial Assessment: We thoroughly assess the building’s thermal performance using thermal imaging. The assessment identifies areas of concern, such as thermal bridges, insulation weaknesses, and potential moisture issues.
  2. Detailed Modelling: Incorporating the findings from thermal imaging into WUFI and Psi models, we simulate various retrofitting scenarios. This process helps us understand the potential impacts of different retrofitting options on moisture behaviour, thermal efficiency, and overall building performance.
  3. Solution Specification: We specify retrofitting solutions tailored to the unique needs of each building. Our recommendations address immediate issues, prevent future problems, and enhance overall performance.
  4. Implementation and Verification: Following the retrofit, we can use thermal imaging alongside follow-up modelling to verify the effectiveness of the interventions. This ensures that the intended improvements are realised and provides peace of mind for building owners and occupants.
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