A new online tool could help Calgarians save money on their heating bills while combating climate change.

Hay

University of Calgary scientist Geoffrey Hay is leading a team of researchers that is building a mapping service that lets people visualize the amount and location of waste heat leaving their homes and neighbourhoods. (CBC)

University of Calgary researchers are using infrared thermal imaging to measure heat slipping out of people's homes, which costs homeowners money and emits greenhouse gases.

The HEAT (Heat Energy Assessment Technologies) project features a free website — www.saveheat.co — that uses Google Maps.

It shows homeowners exactly where their homes are wasting heat, how much it's costing them and how to fix it.

Geography professor Geoffrey Hay, who is heading up the project, said he got started by testing his own new — but drafty — house using thermal infrared imaging.

  • Listen to his full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener below:

"I'm learning from the technology what's actually wrong with my home. I was able to put some insulation around my door, and significantly reduce the amount of energy coming out," he said.

Hay and his team later took their state-of-the-art thermal camera over the city to measure roughly 38,000 homes in northwest and southwest Calgary.

Pilot project wins grand prize

Earlier this month, the pilot project won the grand prize at a conference on global climate change at MIT.

Researchers were intrigued to find that some of the homes leaking the most heat were in the newest communities, said Tyler Hermanson, a senior consultant at 4 Elements Integrated Design, which is part of the project.

heat map

The HEAT project (Heat Energy Assessment Technologies) uses Google Maps to show homeowners exactly where their homes are wasting heat, how much it's costing them and how to fix it. (HEAT )

“What we find in the newer homes is they’re larger, and — for their age — they’re not as efficient as they should be,” he said.

“We want to get more detailed information, do more on-site inspections to link what we saw with the camera with what we physically see when we stand inside someone’s house.”

In Canada, buildings account for 35 per cent of all emitted greenhouse gasses, according to the HEAT researchers.

Hay is hoping to get more funding so he can expand the research and map all of Calgary’s approximately 350,000 houses.