The 3E Plus software tool is designed to determine where added insulation will be most effective in improving thermal efficiency.
ALEXANDRIA, VA — Want a tool that shows commercial/industrial customers the energy savings they can realize with your services? Want it for free?

For those contractors that provide energy services, pointing out solutions for optimizing energy efficiency, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) offers a software tool called 3E Plus that quickly provides valuable information. And it won’t cost you a cent.

NAIMA includes the major manufacturers of fiberglass, rock wool, and slag wool insulation products, including CertainTeed, Johns Manville, Knauf Fiberglass, and Owens Corning. One of the association’s goals is to improve energy efficiency through the use of insulation.

“3E Plus is a free tool which simplifies the complex task of determining how much insulation is necessary to use less energy, reduce plant emissions, and improve process efficiency,” explains Charles Cottrell, director of technical services for the association. “Designers can easily calculate the thermal performance of both insulated and uninsulated ducts, pipes, and equipment, as well as the greenhouse gas emissions reductions. They can then use 3E Plus to translate Btu losses into actual dollars. With this tool, most people can get to the answers they want in just a few minutes vs. the hours it could take to do the calculations on their own.”

The software is designed to determine where added insulation will be most effective in improving thermal efficiency. By calculating the potential energy and cost savings, users can gauge the return on investment for insulation upgrades.

Version 3.1 of the software was recently released, and its features include:

  • Performing calculations for most types of insulation materials and accepting performance data provided by the user for other materials;

  • Providing calculations for a number of fuel types; and

  • Using calculations and default values from independent sources.

    “The software is designed to be very flexible,” said Cottrell. “The program contains many standard insulation types and the user can add his own if needed.”


    The calculations that 3E Plus can perform include:

  • The energy (Btu) currently being saved with existing insulation systems and the actual dollar value of those savings vs. the potential Btu savings with an insulation upgrade and the fuel dollar value of those savings.

  • The number of pounds of greenhouse gases — CO2, NOx, and Carbon Equivalent (CE) — being prevented from release into the atmosphere with existing insulation vs. the potential number of pounds of greenhouse gases that could be prevented from release into the atmosphere through an insulation upgrade.

  • The cost of operating systems with existing insulation in terms of Btu and dollars vs. the potential cost reduction of operating those same systems with an insulation upgrade.

    Results can be printed out as desired.

    Cottrell noted that it is difficult to provide “typical” insulation paybacks. However, he said, “Generally, insulating a bare surface has a payback of under one year. Ducts tend to be longer because of the lower difference in temperature.”

    The software was developed for ease of use, but “most users find it helpful to get a little training on the product,” stated Cottrell.

    “While it’s designed to be easy to use just by reading the manual, most people would rather get hands-on training in a short course rather than read the manual on their own. The National Insulation Association has made 3E Plus part of its Insulation Efficiency Program and the response from students and instructors has been extremely positive.”

    For a free download of 3E Plus, visit the company’s website at The site includes the user’s guide, case studies, a photo essay on the software’s use in the field, and a list of state and utility incentive programs for commercial and industrial insulation.

    Cottrell added, “A new version which will add metric measurements will be available next year, also at no cost.”

    Publication date: 10/21/2002