Why heat the outdoors? To assure you don’t, you’ll need to track down hot air leaking out of the house. You could drop megabucks to have a pro bring out a $5,000 infrared camera and perform a home energy audit. But hey — we’re talking about saving money, not spending it. Black & Decker offers a cheaper (and somewhat simpler) solution: their Thermal Leak Detector. And it’s just $40.
Starting with the pro’s camera, Black & Decker’s engineers asked “What don’t you need to get the job done?” First to go: the camera’s expensive CCD chip. Do you really need to see a thermal picture of the house just to find hot air? Instead, they replaced the CCD with a simple laser pyrometer — and a brilliantly simple interface.
When you turn on the TLD, it shines a green spot wherever you’ve aimed the pyrometer. It also displays the temperature of the spot on its LCD. The temperature of this initial spot becomes the standard, and as you move the spot around, the TLD changes the color of the light when the temperature climbs or drops. Red indicates hotter, blue colder. You can select the sensitivity — 1, 5, or 10 degrees F — via a switch.
It’s incredibly easy to use. Point it at the floor and turn it on. Walk around the house shining the light on various spots, and you’ll quickly discover whether or not, for example, the electrician pulled all the insulation out around outlets on exterior walls, whether windows leak, or whether your heater is venting into your attic, heating it instead of your house. Try it outside on a cold day to look for hot air escaping, or indoors to find cold air leaking in.
The TLD isn’t new. It’s been out for quite a while now, and I’ve written about it for multiple publications. But as temperatures finally start to drop I couldn’t help but bring it up again. We use ours around the office regularly, both for its intended purpose and for fun. $5,000 is way too much cash to blow on maybe finding some spare dough this winter. But $40 isn’t bad at all.