While not necessarily part of a professional energy audit, some technicians use thermal imaging to detect heat “leaks” in a home’s envelope. Thermal leaks can occur in areas that are poorly insulated, allowing heat to move more easily, or be caused by air leaks (drafts), which allow cold air in or warm air out. Thermal imaging cameras convert the heat in the infrared wavelength into a visible light display. The spectrum and amount of thermal radiation depend primarily on an object’s surface temperature. Warmer objects appear red, and cooler objects appear blue and black. From inside the home, a technician can pinpoint cold spots where interior heat is escaping or cold air is infiltrating.
This baseboard looks harmless enough, but because it hides a seam between building materials, it was a prime spot for air infiltration.
The thermal image shows cold air passing from underneath the baseboard (dark blue and black) into the living space. The solution was a bead of clear silicone caulk.