Putting The Heat On Westport Homes

What good is owning a home if you can’t compare it to your neighbors’?

Number of rooms. Height of the roof. Size of the backyard swing set. If we can measure it, we can win it.

Well, here’s a new metric: thermal imaging.

Starting today — thanks to a partnership between Sagewell and the Westport Green Task Force — you can find out how much heat is leaking from your house, compared to others like it.

If you live in a super-energy-efficient house — damn, no one will know.

But if yours does a better job heating the great outdoors than you — you can do something about it. Like, fix it.

The right side of the house above has had work done to prevent energy loss. The left side shows where it all goes.

The right side of the house above has had work done to prevent energy loss. The left side shows where it all goes.

Sagewell — a 5-year-old company that designs energy efficiency programs — has already worked with 40 towns in their home state of Massachusetts. Now they’re expanding to Connecticut.

A dozen communities applied for Sagewell’s initial program. Four — including Westport — were accepted.

“We have a very environmentally conscious community,” Green Task Force chair David Mann says. “It’s well organized, and people are active.”

That attracted Sagewell, says CEO Pasi Miettinen.

His program uses Google Maps-type vehicles. Driving through town on cold winter nights, they collect heat-loss data via thermal imaging.

When a homeowner requests a report, the data on that house is prepared.

A typical Sagewell report.

A typical Sagewell report. The right side describes heat loss via insulation, windows and doors.

Sagewell mapped Westport last month (and it was cold). They got about 90 percent of all houses. Those obscured by hedges or fences, more than 70 feet from the road, and condos were not mapped.

Once you see how much heat roars through your walls, you can request an in-home assessment, and consultations (including insulation, upgrading heating or air conditioning systems, new windows and solar options) from Sagewell partners. Sagewell offers email and phone help throughout the process.

The next step is taking advantage of energy efficiency measures. Some are state-subsidized, like a Home Energy Solutions visit that offers various options, rebates, incentives and financing. (Free energy efficiency measures are offered on an income-eligible basis.) Sagewell offers lists of local contractors, too.

Another option: Astrum Solar will provide solar photovoltaic for Westporters, at a discounted price. (Contracts must be signed by May 1.)

Thermal imaging is free to customers. Sagewell — a for-profit company — earns fees for referrals, and through marketing agreements.

Miggs Burroughs designed the very clever front of this informational postcard. Look for it in your mail soon.

Miggs Burroughs designed the very clever front of this informational postcard. Look for it in your mail soon.

In Belmont, Massachusetts, more than 20% of all eligible homeowners took advantage of Sagewell’s thermal imaging. (One resident who apparently passed: Mitt Romney.)

Cheshire — one of the other 3 Connecticut towns involved — has already seen over 200 homeowners participate.

Mann notes that in the past 3 years approximately 15 percent of Westport homes have been weatherized, thanks to CL&P’s Home Energy Challenge. But, he says, much more can be done.

Thermal imaging is not sexy — or visible. However, it can be very cost-efficient. And with the money you save on energy, you can build a higher fence. Add another bay to your garage. Construct an addition to your child’s treehouse.

You know — the things everyone can see.

(To participate in the program, or for more information, click here or call 203-349-3019. An informational workshop is set for Thursday, February 27, 6:30 p.m. at Earthplace.)

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