Infrared Maps Give Belgian Homeowners a Bird’s-Eye View of Their Houses’ Energy Efficiency

Infrared maps of Antwerp can show residents whether their homes are well-insulated or radiate heat on a cold night. via Technology Review

It’s neat that you can see your house from space, thanks to Google and Bing maps, but cluttered images of rooftops and streets don’t give you much besides street directions. A Belgian project aims to change that by adding infrared imagery, allowing Antwerp homeowners to check their homes’ insulation capabilities.

The thermal map shown above was generated from an aircraft flying low over Antwerp and surrounding areas, on four cold nights in March 2009. The map indicates heat loss from the rooftops, according to the infrared map project.

Red and yellow areas are warmer; darker spots may indicate cool, empty buildings or features like parks or parking lots.

The most detailed online maps already combine satellite imagery with aerial photos, so it wouldn’t be difficult to add a thermal view. The information could bolster weatherization efforts, as Technology Review notes — if you can literally see heat escaping from your house, you might be more open to spending money on improved insulation.

The thermal map is a joint project of 21 municipalities in the region of Antwerp. The site also includes a quiz that asks Belgians about their typical energy use.

Technology Review