20 Aug 2014
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Thermal Images of Homes to Identify Weatherization Potential

Hamilton-Wenham Green is sponsoring a program that will collect thermal images of local buildings to figure out which ones are most eligible for weatherization upgrades.

Thermal Images of Homes to Identify Weatherization Potential

Thermal images of local homes will help identify the homes that are most eligible to make meaningful weatherization upgrades in a program scheduled to begin in the next few weeks.

Organizers of the program, Hamilton-Wenham Green, are hosting an informational meeting on Tuesday night to further explain the program and answer questions.

One in five homeowners can retrofit their home and start saving money in less than three years, according to Sagewell President and CEO Pasi Miettinen.

The initial analysis is free and there are many government programs available that pay for the upgrades.

Sagewell is a Woburn company that scans buildings using thermal imaging and then evaluates the data and passes it on the building owner. Sagewell will suggest ways to save money and energy.

The informational meeting with Sagewell and Hamilton-Wenham Green, which is spearheading the effort to scan 1,000 homes, on Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 p.m. at the . The meeting will be taped and shown on HWCam public access TV.

Sagewell will then come through Hamilton and Wenham in a couple weeks.

“When we talk to homeowners and they realize what they see in the images we give them and the retrofitting costs are low and can be done in one to two days onsite, they are far more agreeable to take action,” said Miettinen. “Before they thought it would take many weeks and be very expensive. Most effective measures are relatively quick implementations and relatively inexpensive.”

Hamilton Wenham Green, which looks to promote community sustainability through programs and education, was initially approached by Sagewell six months ago but the cost was $80,000. The project had stalled because the local non-profit didn't have the money to pay for it, but it was rejuvenated when Sagewell was able extend to this project using grants from a similar project it is currently undertaking in the Springfield area. Hamilton Wenham Green will pay for the follow-up.

“It is real exciting that Hamilton Wenham Green can bring this to residents and the private community,” said Sue Patrolia, a board member of Green and the person in charge of this project.

“I am interested to see how goes and hope we can make a difference," said Patrolia, who also serves as the sustainability coordinator for both towns. "If 400-500 homes can increase energy efficiency then we made a change.”

Sagwell’s truck will canvass the towns at night and then process the data. Homeowners whose homes were evaluated will be able to see the images and get information on where problems arose and how to make changes to both save money and energy. They will be able to go to Sagewell's website and check out the results with a personal password that will keep the data confidential.

On Monday, Selectman David Carey said it is possible that the project will be expanded from about 1,000 homes in the two towns to almost every homes, using remaining money from the grant program that paid for a similar project in the Springfield area.

Residents who do not want to have their home imaged can opt out by e-mailing Sagewell at optout@sagewell.com. Building owner that want to guarantee to be included can e-mail priority@sagewell.com.

Miettinen said from past analysis that his company sees 5 to 10 percent of homes have “significant opportunities” to save money and that generally the payback time (when the changes start to save money) is two to three years. He said another 10-20 percent will also save money in the same time frame but they wouldn’t see as much savings. Those estimations are even if there are no government programs that help allay costs.

However, in both situations the building owner will be saving energy.

“If we can figure out which buildings are in the most need, that’s the way we can reduce energy the most,” said Patrolia. “Hamilton Wenham Green is glad to be involved and support all sustainability.”

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