Warm breath leaving people’s mouths is easy to see on a cold winter day, but it’s not nearly as easy to see all the warmth seeping from homes and buildings.

“Imagine if your car leaked gas you’d want to know what happened,” said Sanjay Sarma, an MIT mechanical engineering professor. “Homes leak heat, you just can’t see it.”

Using Sarma’s technology, city officials plan to take infrared scans of nearly every square foot of Boston to determine how much heat is escaping from homes and businesses. Boston will be the first major U.S. city to utilize the scans. Galen Nelson, the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s green tech business manager, said several European cities and one small Midwestern town have already benefited greatly from them.


“We know there are millions of dollars in energy savings to be tapped,” Nelson said.

Sarma said doing so could save people 10 to 20 percent off their energy bill.

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