Thermal Cameras Arrive at a Library Near You

April 30, 2019

Interested in seeing exactly where your house is losing energy but don’t want to buy an expensive thermal imaging device? Don’t fret – your local library will now have cameras for you to borrow!

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) recently added thermal imaging cameras to the list of things they lend out. Purchased by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (MCDEP), the easy-to-use cameras attach directly to the battery port of iPhones or Android phones. Currently there are four cameras each available for Android and iPhone phones available through the MCPL.

Using the Thermal Camera

The cameras allow you to inspect your home with infrared technology to find insulation, heating and water problems around your home using your phone and the FLIR ONE app, which can be downloaded from the Google Play or Apple App stores. The thermal units for Android devices come with a USB adapter for older phone models. Both come in handy, sturdy cases (blue for iPhones and black for Androids) to help protect them from damage.

Thermal cameras give visual heat maps to reveal hot and cold spots via color-coded images. For example, purples show areas that lose heat while yellows indicate areas are gaining heat. They also take thermal and regular pictures at the same time so users can easily identify areas in their homes that are losing or gaining heat. We also have a way for you to use the thermal camera imaging to look for leaks on our Projects & Incentives page.

Thermal cameras let users give their homes a mini home energy audit to identify door, window, electricity outlets, cable or Internet entry points that lose or gain heat, as well as exterior plumbing fixtures leaks and insulation issues. Once weatherizing improvements like adding insulation and weather stripping are made, living areas can become more comfortable and utility bills may shrink.

Weak insulation areas may include attics, walls, floors, foundations, crawl spaces, and ducts. Older homes usually benefit the most from weatherization updates, but air leaks and insulation gaps can also be created as contractors drill holes or move existing insulation around during construction.

“Sealing and better insulating your home can help save about 17 percent on heating and cooling costs,” Adam Ortiz, Director of MC DEP said, citing research on area homes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Borrowing from the Library

MCPLs have a bevy of books, DVDs, programs on home energy efficiency and other library tools for more information on how to improve their home’s energy efficiency as well. Many of the products needed to complete simple adjustments – like weather stripping for windows or door sweeps for drafty entryways – can be found in local hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive, which can help jump start the energy savings quickly.

Currently, Chevy Chase, Olney, Quince Orchard and White Oak Library branches are the only ones that have cameras available, but they can be borrowed from any location via a hold.

To reserve a camera, visit the MCPL website. From there, search for “thermal camera” and select the camera type compatible with your mobile device (iPhone or Android) by clicking the “Place Hold” button. You’ll be prompted to log-in to your MCPL account using your library card number and PIN (typically your birth year), and the location where you’d like to pick up the camera. Instructions on using the camera are inside the durable plastic case.

By Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges

2 comments on "Thermal Cameras Arrive at a Library Near You"

  1. Cristobal Francis says:

    This is a very important initiative. The DEP team, now with Mr. Ortiz (who made an interesting sustainable project with composting), contribute implementing interesting ideas where communities can participate making the necessary changes to improve our living spaces, becoming more sustainable, or in some ways educating the public to be more aware of sustainable practices.
    MCPL are an excellent channel for this tools.

    1. Larissa Johnson says:

      Thanks for your feedback! Programs like these are a great way to help Montgomery County residents learn more about their energy use and how they can make their home more sustainable. We are glad you agree!

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