The City of Vancouver is holding workshops this week to explain how a neighbourhood thermal imaging project could help homeowners reduce energy loss from their homes.

The city plans to start scanning single family homes in five Vancouver neighbourhoods with a special camera that identifies heat loss, as early as Jan. 15.

It held its first information session last night at Hill Crest Community Centre with more to follow this week.

Chris Higgins, the city's green buildings coordinator, told CBC's The Early Edition the city will send the thermal image to the homeowner and they can see if there's a specific area — like a failed window or a corner of missing insulation — that they can fix.

"We've definitely heard from some citizens that they just don't know where to start," he said. "This provides a starting point for homeowners ... as opposed to replacing all their windows, they can replace a couple."

Higgins said the five neighbourhoods — Strathcona, Hastings Sunrise, Dunbar-Southlands, Riley Park and Victoria Fraserview — were chosen because they are dominated by owner-occupied homes where owners have undertaken upgrades in the past that show keenness to improve and renovate.

Thermal image house

Thermal images can show areas of energy leakage and heat loss. Here, areas in yellow are warmer than the areas in purple. (City of Vancouver)

Along with the mailed image of their home, Higgins said homeowners will also receive a list of eligible grants and the contact information for an "energy coach" who can suggest other home improvements. He emphasized that no one will be compelled to take action and the project is only intended to provide additional information.

The project costs around $100,000 and is being paid for by the City of Vancouver. Each home costs $6 to thermal image in the bulk project, Higgins said, whereas to get a single home imaged privately would be somewhere between $600 and 800.

Information sessions take place:

  • Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m. PT at the Dunbar Community Centre.
  • Wednesday, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. PT at Kensington Community Centre.
  • Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. PT at Templeton Park Pool.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled City of Vancouver launches thermal imaging program to help homeowners