WITH snow outside you might be wondering just how energy-efficient your house is.

Now there is a free and easy way to find out.

The Oxfordshire Community Action Groups (CAG) network has two thermal imaging cameras which can reveal where your insulation is not so hot.

The cameras pick up infrared radiation and produce a picture showing where the heat is escaping from your home.

CAG project officer Peter Lefort works with the 47 groups in Oxfordshire. He trains a member of each group how to use the camera so they can use it for two weeks at a time.

The cameras can detect a crack in a wall where heat is escaping.

The other common hotspots, says Mr Lefort, 26, from Temple Cowley, are radiators behind curtains or under windows, and poorly insulated lofts.

He said: “We did a pub in Stonesfield where they had a fire going and you could see the heat coming straight out of the chimney breast.”

So the pub put an extra layer of bricks on the outside wall for insulation.

“At my parents’ house my dad was really proud of the insulating foil behind his radiator, but from the outside using the camera you could see the area where the foil stopped.”

“The cameras are a tangible way of engaging the public,” said Mr Lefort.

“People can see a picture of their own home which is so much more effective than just telling them to get insulation.”

Mr Lefort and his colleagues are employed by a firm called Resource Futures, but they are contracted to work for Oxfordshire County Council.

The council bought the two infrared cameras – worth £2,500 each – which it donated to the CAG network.

Mr Lefort said: “A lot of people are quite turned off by the phrase ‘climate change’, so if you say ‘this will save you money’ it is more attractive.”