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Thermal-imagery program spotlights heat loss in Westport homes

Photo by Contributed Photo

A thermal image of a house taken by Sagewell, Inc., illustrates high heat loss from the building in those areas showing yellow or lighter tones. Thermal images of Westport homes by the firm are available to owners through a program sponsored by the town's Green Task Force to promote greater energy efficiency.

The camera doesn't lie. So the Green Task Force hopes Westport homeowners will be convinced to make energy-efficiency upgrades after seeing thermal images that show heat -- and dollars -- literally flying out the doors of their houses.

The new Thermal Imaging and Energy Efficiency Program, an initiative spearheaded by the Green Task Force, besides showing owners where heat is escaping from their homes, will offer guidance on how to remediate it.

Crews from Sagewell, Inc., a Cambridge, Mass., energy efficiency company, last month drove the streets of Westport and took thermal-imagery photos of most homes to show where heat loss was occurring. Because of tree and landscaping coverage, some homes could not be photographed to produce effective thermal images.

Westporters can access the Sagewell thermal images of their homes through the task force website, www.wegreenwestport.org

"The idea is to encourage Westporters to take energy-efficiency measures seriously," said Pippa Bell Ader, vice chairwoman of the task force.

Westport was one of only four towns in Connecticut chosen to participate in a program organized through the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. The authority subsidized the thermal-imaging program, which is available through contracts only with a municipality. The opportunity to view the heat-loss photos and receive additional information is for a limited time.

"We hope that using a picture to bring home the impact of inefficient houses will inspire people to make changes and improve their homes," said David Mann, the task force chairman.

Mann said close to 15 percent of Westport residents have taken part in the Home Energy Solution program, which provides home inspections and recommendations for weatherization. "It's time to help those who have begun to take deeper measures, like enhanced insulation, state-of-the-art heating, ventilation and air conditioning, etcetera, and to get the vast majority of residents involved," he said.

"These more energy-efficient homes have a track record of not only saving people money on their utility bills, but they've been shown in studies to sell at a premium," Mann said, adding that they're more comfortable to live in.

The task force will host a workshop on the thermal-imaging program at 7 p.m. Thursday at Earthplace, 10 Woodside Lane, with wine and light refreshments beginning at 6:30. Representatives of Sagewell will be on hand, along with vendors who are available for follow-up work detected in the images.

"It's a terrific program," said Wendy Batteau, a District 8 member of the Representative Town Meeting, who chairs the RTM's Environment Committee.

"I urge all Westporters to take advantage of it," she said. "It enables them to see how heat flows within and outside their homes, so it shows them where heat leaks might be."

Batteau noted the hard work of the task force, in particular Ader and Mann, who speadheaded the project.

"It's in keeping with the Green Task Force's mission of helping Westporters make their homes more energy efficient," she said. "It will save them energy. It will save them money." Read Full Article 

Ader said the task force has recommended vendors who've proved most efficient at doing energy-efficiency renovations, but said Sagewell has stringent requirements for any contractor referrals it makes.

She also noted that the Home Energy Solution visits continue to be available free for income-eligible households in Westport.

"Unfortunately in the past the program has not been as well run as it is now and people have had to wait months and months," she said. "I just hope people will take advantage of this ... There are Westporters who could benefit."

"Westport remains a leader at the forefront of sustainability in the state and country," Mann said.

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