What Is Heat Loss & Why Does It Matter?

Heat loss represents the energy required to keep a room at a given temperature on the coldest days. It is typically measured in kilowatts (kW) or British Thermal Units (BTUs). A more technical definition for heat loss is the total transfer of heat through an object. It can occur through four main processes.

Four Types of Heat Loss

Whether the subject at hand is the human body, a building, or a mechanical component, there are four types of heat loss to be aware of:

  1. Convection: Convection occurs when heat is transferred from one surface to another through fluids — either gases or liquids. 
  2. Conduction: When heat travels through a solid material to whatever is outside of it via direct contact, this movement is called conduction. 
  3. Radiation: Electromagnetic radiation moves energy through air, though it is usually not seen. This type of thermal loss is not effective for ambient temperatures. The sun is one common example of electromagnetic radiation in nature.
  4. Evaporation: Evaporation occurs when a fluid's latent heat takes in the necessary energy to change into a gas.

If skin temperature is greater than that of the surroundings, the body can lose heat by radiation and conduction.

How To Calculate Heat Loss

If you are calculating heat loss — defined here as a thermal transfer from one object to the ambient environment around it via conduction —  you will use this formula:

  • Q=U*A*ΔT

An area's heat loss (A) will be calculated through the material's value (U) and the difference between the inside and outside temperature (ΔT).

You could also use a heat loss calculator to determine how much energy is lost.

Why Calculating Heat Loss Is Important

Calculating your facility's heat loss is vital for several reasons, including:

  • Understanding operator comfort: Thermal energy loss affects the temperature of the surrounding area, potentially resulting in poor operator comfort that can affect performance.
  • Heating and power requirements: Measuring heat loss will help you determine the heating and power requirements you need to keep components at the appropriate temperature.
  • Meeting regulatory approvals: Heat loss measurements help you determine whether your building and components meet regulatory requirements.
  • Determining costs: A heat survey will allow you to evaluate your energy requirements and the costs of operating different systems.

You should understand the heat loss of a given facility or component before installing thermal insulation. Some materials may be more suitable than others for your application.

How Heat Loss Surveys Can Identify Insulation Problems

heat loss survey is a detailed analysis that allows you to pinpoint the largest areas of thermal energy loss in your system. To conduct a heat loss survey, you need a professional to take measurements and use specialized technology to measure the results. 

A heat survey is specifically designed to bring attention to insulation problems and demonstrate what they are currently costing you. Your heat loss survey should include highlights on the following:

  • Carbon dioxide reductions
  • Available incentives 
  • Details about return on investment
  • The cost per month of waiting to install insulation
  • The amount of money insulation can save you within five years

A survey will also show you which areas call for the most immediate attention based on temperature and size.

Contact Thermaxx to Schedule a Heat Loss Survey

If you need a heat loss survey, choose Thermaxx. Our team is ready to help you learn how to improve your insulation so you can reduce energy costs, improve safety, and work more effectively. Learn more about Thermaxx heat loss surveys or contact us for more information.