Thermal surveys reveal integrity of heat insulation at 10 Downing Street

ITV's Tonight programme, 'Money to Burn' analysed the energy usage and energy wastage of domestic homes, and was also granted permission to take thermal images of 10 Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament.

The results showed how better insulation helped reduce bills in domestic situations, but also highlighted how inefficient older buildings can be; including, ironically, the building housing the Department of Environment and Climate Change.

Duncan Webb, Thermal Imaging expert at ERIKS used the latest Flir thermal imaging camera to record images of both the domestic houses and the large government and municipal buildings.

Webb said: "It is the same equipment and process that we use to analyse the efficiency and health of a wide range of industrial equipment, from electrical power distribution, and power transmission equipment to mechanical devices such as bearings and gearboxes. Excess heat usually tells us that there is a problem; elevated temperatures mean higher resistance in circuits and motors, and higher friction in rotating machinery. Commonly these are spotted when we are working as part of a pro-active maintenance service using predictive maintenance techniques to identify problems early on and fix them in order to reduce downtime".

The cameras are also used to minimise energy loss. Webb explained: "For example we can spot faulty insulation in cold refrigerated rooms and similar problems in commercial ovens and kilns. The images showed there is probably scope to improve the insulation at No 10 as the entire building was giving off quite a strong heat signature, but insulating listed buildings can be tricky to do."

On the camera, blue is cold, with the colour changing through yellow, orange and red as it gets hotter. White shows the hottest areas. According to Webb, the largest heat signature was from the Houses of Parliament.
Thermal imaging is used alongside other condition monitoring techniques such as vibration analysis, lubricant analysis, and laser alignment; all key aspects of the general maintenance programs.

Chris Shaw

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