DURING the recent Arctic snowfall, many of us turned the heating up to full blast to keep out the cold.

But how much of that heat stayed inside our homes, and how much of it went straight out the window?

Thanks to the magic of infrared, hundreds of homes across Oxford now know exactly how much money they are burning thanks to insufficient insulation.

In a project funded by Oxford's Low Carbon Hub, a total of 244 households in East Oxford, Rose Hill and Headington borrowed a thermal imaging camera to get a vivid snapshot of their central heating disappearing into the cold night air.

The colourful photos revealed a host of leaky windows, walls and doors.

Now, at least 28 of those homes have said they plan to make improvements such as installing loft insulation, cavity wall filling or double glazing.

Fifteen of the households said they would definitely be changing their behaviour to cut energy consumption and nine said they had already made changes.

If carried out, the Low Carbon Hub said those measures could save approximately 10 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in Oxford.

Spokeswoman Beth McAllister said the project had been a success in several ways.

She said: "Volunteers and participants felt the project was a success with a lot of learning.

"When surveying a street, they found having a volunteer who was a local resident really helped with getting buy-in from the community.

"The energy saving activities and home improvements could result in potential cost savings to the households of £1,009, and participants also said they knew their neighbours better and had a better understanding of community involvement and cohesion."

The project, co-ordinated on the ground by Rose Hill and Iffley Low Carbon, Low Carbon Headington, Local Environment Action Florence Park (LEAF) and Low Carbon East Oxford, was funded by a £1,215 grant from the Low Carbon Hub.

The aim was to reduce household carbon emissions by raising awareness of energy-efficiency measures, educating households on behaviour changes and encouraging the installation of energy-saving measures.

The four groups recruited volunteers by knocking on doors, then held training sessions on using the thermal camera and interpreting the results.

The groups recruited a total of 26 volunteers to their ranks and also ended up referring 105 households to the energy industry-funded Local Energy Advice Programme which provides support for vulnerable or low-income families to make home improvements.

Alice Hemming of Oxfordshire's Community Action Groups network said the thermal imaging project had been 'A great example of community action groups working together to make a difference'.

The scheme is one of a number of energy projects which the Low Carbon Hub is currently helping to fund.

See lowcarbonhub.org