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Winter Arrives

I captured this photograph last week at sunrise showing that winter has come to the small town of Montpelier, Vermont where I live. The golden dome of our statehouse can be seen in the lower right against a backdrop of the Green Mountains.

Here in Vermont, as well as in much of the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, we are definitely heading quickly into winter. It has been one of the warmest autumns on record, but as we approach the Winter Solstice (12/21), we finally have some snow and seasonably cold temperatures.

The American poet Ezra Pound wrote a delightful parody of the ancient poem “Summer is a Comin’ In” which I’m sure will bring a smile to your face, even if you are cold.

While the Solstice marks the shortest day of the year for us, the coldest weather does not arrive for another 5-6 weeks. Typically here in Vermont, January 28th marks the halfway point of winter and brings our chilliest weather. Between now and then the earth continues to lose more stored heat than it gains from the sun. I guess I’d better dig into the closet and find my warmer winter clothing soon.

Of course “warmer” is a relative term! I always laugh at myself when, at this time of year, I dress lightly when it is in the high 40°Fs or low 50°Fs—“warm!” When we get those temperatures in June or July, we are huddling inside complaining about how “cold” it is.

For some, winter is not just a time to ski or snowshoe. Rather it is a time they must worry about keeping warm. In the USA, the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) has done a remarkable job of helping low-income folks to better prepare for these challenges. So often people who live in poverty can only afford to live in homes with very low energy efficiency. The spiral of poverty, as a result, is brutal.

WAP has begun using thermal imaging extensively over the past several years. It is used during audits to clarify the exact condition of the home as well as during the installation of materials to ensure cost-effective work practices. The benefits are demonstrated when thermal imaging is again used during “test out”—much higher quality work is now the norm for many programs. Thermography is used here in Vermont on nearly every home that is weatherized.

The elderly people who live in this home cannot afford to heat it and are often cold because of the poor energy efficiency of the building. The WAP has helped tens of thousands break the cruel cycle of poverty that comes with such homes.

The 2011 National Weatherization Training Conference is going on as you read this blog post. I know 2012 will bring some budget battles for funding, but I cannot imagine a better place to put some money than in improving energy efficiency.

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

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