Home Performance and Flir: “Superman Has Nothing On These Folks.”



Energy Efficiency


It may be as close as we can get to being Superman.

We may never be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or stop a speeding locomotive, but at Neil Kelly Home Performance—we do have x-ray vision. Well, sort of.

For the largest home energy contractor in the Northwest Neil Kellys’ “x-ray vision” consists of a thermal imaging camera.  And for our energy-saving experts, it’s a valuable addition to the tool bag.

Neil Kelly Home Performance use of the Flir camera in detecting temperature transfer

Neil Kelly Home Performance, the largest home energy contractor in the Northwest with offices in Portland and Seattle, uses Flir thermal imaging cameras to detect places where unwanted air sneaks into your home. Pioneers in the commercial infrared camera industry, Flir is an Oregon-based company that’s been supplying thermal imaging equipment for decades.

Check out their latest video here: http://www.flir.com/thermography/americas/us/view/?id=59679

A thermal imaging camera is a pretty cool tool, but by itself it only tells half the story.  The use of a “Blower Door Test” in conjunction with the Flir camera helps to pin-point the sources of air infiltration. Before we get to that, we need to talk about how your home performs.


Cross section of home building envelope

Look at your home as an envelope that is supposed to keep cool air out in the winter and hot air in the summer.  There are two ways that envelope can spring a leak:  One is through air moving unrestricted through “holes” in the envelope. The other is by thermal conductivity through the building surfaces.

That sounds really complicated, but it’s really pretty simple.  Think about the difference in temperature in the winter between outside and the inside of your home.  Put your hand Thermal Image of home exterior using a Flir cameraon the window then place it on a wall.  Notice a difference?  Well, that’s because the window conducts temperature faster than the wall.  That’s mostly because our walls have better insulating qualities than do our windows.



Thermal imaging cameras show the temperature differences in our building envelope, and that contrast is even more evident when the Blower Door test is performed. It’s pretty simple, too.  A large fan is installed in a door-mounted frame, and once it’s turned on it starts to create a pressure difference between the inside and outside of a house. “We use it to detect drafts that are happening behind the sheetrock, though recessed lights, around windows, and even to detect if there is missing insulation in the walls,” says Neil Kelly Home Performance manager Chad Ruhoff. “And when air leaks really start to show up, that gives our Home Performance crews a distinct idea of what
parts of that “envelope” need help. Surfaces that are un-insulated or have air “gaps” waste a lot of energy that we pay to keep our homes comfortable.


The first step to take in finding the leaks in your homes’ envelope is to schedule a Home
Performance energy audit
.  The audit is free, and you can also learn about money saving rebates for which you may qualify.  We’ll bring our x-ray vision and see what’s behind your walls.

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