3E Plus® Version 4.0 Streamlines Insulation Thickness Calculations

September 1, 2005

The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association’s (NAIMA) new 3E Plus Insulation Thickness Program Version 4.0 is all about simplifying the task of determining how much insulation is necessary to use less energy, reduce plant emissions and improve process efficiency. Now in its fourth generation, this practical, easy-to-use program calculates the economic, energy and environmental savings provided by insulation systems. Specifically, 3E Plus translates energy losses into actual dollar amounts and calculates the number of pounds of greenhouse gases (CO2, Nox and carbon equivalent) that are prevented from being released into the atmosphere through reduced fuel consumption.

Since its original development in the early 1960s as a computer card deck, 3E Plus has undergone significant upgrading to ensure platform compatibility and ease of use. It was first developed as a DOS-based program in the late 1980s when environmental calculations were added to the program. This fourth generation adaptation is more comprehensive and user friendly than ever, for the first time providing the capability to calculate in metric measurements. In mid-September 2005, Version 4.0 will become available for free download from www.pipeinsulation.org.

New Program Features

Advanced features of 3E Plus were designed to broaden the appeal of previous versions, including a friendlier user interface; automated data recording; improved retrofit calculations; clear, concise and easy-to-read reports; and metric (SI) and inch-pound (IP) calculations. Users can now create and save new defaults, not a capability of the previous versions of the program.

The user also now has the ability to add any pollutant to a specific fuel type. For example, if the Environmental Protection Agency begins regulating a new hazardous air pollutant (HAP), information about the pollutant can be added into 3E Plus to calculate how much of that pollutant will be emitted from varying insulation thicknesses. Users can add their own fuel combinations and materials specifications. All appropriate insulations covered by ASTM standards are included as established options, and any type of insulation can be added to the program. The program does the heat-loss calculations in accordance with the ASTM C-680 standard for determining heat loss.

“We relied heavily on the input from those using the program to develop this latest version,” said Charles Cottrell, vice president, technical services for NAIMA. “This version offers a much more robust reporting capability and makes it easier for users to customize the program to their own preferences.”

Training Benefits

With more than 10,000 users worldwide, the 3E Plus program is the centerpiece of NIA’s Insulation Energy Appraisal Program certification. It is also used in NIA’s National Insulation Training Program and will be the sole focus of NIA’s new 3E Plus training program which begins in October 2005. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy has used 3E Plus to develop its Industrial Insulation Guidelines, which it uses in several programs offered through its Industrial Technologies Program.


By using 3E Plus to calculate the potential energy and cost savings over time, facility managers, energy/environmental engineers, industrial process engineers and industrial plant managers can gauge the return on investment for insulation upgrades. This is essential data for making sound business/environmental decisions about a technology that offers tremendous payback over the life of a facility.