Measuring the Value of Mechanical Insulation

Everything You Need to Know About Insulation Energy Appraisals

Insulation Energy Appraisals are a data-backed analysis of your facility’s mechanical insulation. The appraisal report shows facility managers and owners how much energy and money are being spent to operate with their current mechanical insulation system. The report then demonstrates how much money and energy could be saved with a properly selected, specified, designed, installed, and maintained mechanical insulation system.

The Insulation Energy Appraisal process was created by the National Insulation Association over a decade ago. The goal is to assess the insulation system that is currently in place and show how a more efficient system could:

  • Save energy
  • Improve process control and efficiency
  • Reduce fuel costs
  • Contribute to a cleaner environment through reduced emissions

The Insulation Energy Appraisal process consists of four steps (outlined below). The final deliverable is a comprehensive report outlining your facility’s current energy loss, emissions, and energy costs, as well as potential savings with an upgraded insulation system.

4 Steps in the Energy Appraisal Process

Step 1:
Gather Information

Every facility or plant is unique. The first step of the Insulation Energy Appraisal process is for the appraiser to learn as much about your facility operation as possible.

The appraiser starts by meeting with personnel who know the facility well, whether owners or managers. The conversation focuses on a few key areas:

  • Scope of the appraisal: What specific areas of concern do you have, or what areas need the most attention? Is this project for a single piece of equipment, a single process, or the entire plant?
  • Facility operation info: What is your current energy usage and energy distribution system, and what are the costs to operate those systems?
  • Facility layout and drawings: What are the major sources of energy serving the facility?
Gather Information

The results of the Insulation Energy Appraisal are only as strong as the information you are able to provide the appraiser. Complete, accurate information is critical for ensuring that the calculations and analysis are as helpful as possible. An experienced appraiser will have the tools and knowledge to either help you find the answers or make an educated estimate.

Step 2:
Complete a facility walkthrough

The next step is a facility walkthrough. This may take place on the same day as the initial info-gathering discussion, or it may take place during a follow-up visit.

During a walk-through, the appraiser will measure and document all applicable pipes, ducts, and equipment, both insulated and uninsulated or damaged. They may also photograph specific areas with a infrared camera to help facility personnel visualize the most concerning problem areas for energy loss.


The appraiser may also point out areas of concern with uninsulated areas or damaged insulation, such as personnel safety, regulatory compliance, corrosion under insulation, process control, or impact on adjacent equipment.

The thermal camera used during the facility walkthrough highlights low temperatures. Wet insulation transfers temperature far easier because moisture increases the transfer of energy due to water having a higher thermal conductivity than insulation. In many cases, wet insulation can turn moldy over time, which presents a health concern and endangers employee safety.


To deliver the most impactful and accurate appraisal possible, the appraiser will need to gather all of the following information:

  • Pipe and equipment size
  • Types of installed insulation or jacketing
  • Condition of current insulation systems
  • Thickness of current insulation
  • Hours of operation per year
  • Type of fuel used
  • Source efficiency percentage
  • Cost of fuel
  • Relative humidity values
  • Process temperature
  • Average ambient temperature
  • Wind speed
  • Linear square footage of piping

Step 3:
Analyze the data

Once the appraiser has gathered all necessary information and completed a their facility walkthrough, they will complete a series of custom calculations to prepare the final report.

How is the Data Calculated?

Most Insulation Energy Appraisers use a software program created by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). The 3E Plus® program helps insulation professionals determine the best insulation specifications for your specific facility’s needs. To ensure accuracy, the program has customizable inputs for every aspect of your project, and benchmark values if your exact numbers aren’t available.

Sample Appraisal Summary

Cost & Btu Savings

Cost to Operate the System per year with no insulation = $5,232 / year

Cost to Operate the System per year as currently insulated = $5,232 / year

Cost to Operate the System per year with the proposed upgraded insulation = $725

Per Year Savings with the proposed upgraded insulation = $4,507 / year

Btu Savings per year with the proposed upgraded insulation = 17.76 E + 04 Btu / year

Environmental Savings

The Environmental savings are calculated as pounds per year of pollutants that are prevented from entering the atmosphere

CO2 = 64,867 lbs

NOX = 111 lbs

The appraiser uses the 3E Plus® program to calculate the following:

Step 4:
Deliver the final report and recommendations

The final deliverable of an Insulation Energy Appraisal is a comprehensive report. The report explains the financial, energy, and emissions that could be saved with a properly selected, specified, designed, installed, and maintained mechanical insulation system.

What is included in the final report?

  • Fuel cost with your current insulation system
  • Potential upgrades for your system to increase efficiency and decrease energy loss
  • Potential savings with an insulation upgrade
  • Environmental impact in terms of reduced CO2, NOx, and other greenhouse gases resulting from increased energy savings and reduced fuel consumption
  • Energy (Btu) loss/gain from uninsulated surfaces in your facility
  • Energy (Btu) loss/gain from insulated surfaces in your facility
  • Btu or energy loss/gain from a pipe or vessel if it is insulated to the most thermally efficient, yet cost effective, thickness

Ready to take the first step?

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What to do with the Appraisal Report

Once the Insulation Energy Appraiser has presented the final report, what are your facility’s next steps?

  • Review recommendations The appraiser will talk with you about recommendations for implementing the solutions specified in your final report. He or she can recommend a plan that makes sense depending on your facility’s needs and budget.
  • Request a professional estimate If you desire, te appraiser can provide a professional estimate for purchasing and installing a new or upgraded insulation system based on the recommendations in the final report.
  • Share with leaders and stakeholders After receiving the appraisal report, many report feeling armed and prepared to take the matter of insulation "up the ladder" to business leaders and stakeholders.

Here are two common next steps after receiving the appraisal report. Businesses will typically do one of these two things:

  • Budget for the future With the information provided in the report, businesses can incorporate an insulation upgrade into future budget and sustainability initiative planning.
  • Take action If you desire, the appraiser can provide a professional estimate for purchasing and installing a new or upgraded insulation system based on the recommendations in the final report.

Certified Insulation Energy Appraisers

Who performs Insulation Energy Appraisals? For truly professional, impactful results, it is imperative that you seek out a Certified Insulation Energy Appraiser.

The Certified Insulation Energy Appraisal program is a course taught through the National Insulation Association. The course teaches insulation professionals the proper ways to conduct Insulation Energy Appraisals, including:

  • Conducting a facility walkthrough
  • Using the 3E Plus® software
  • Utilize infrared cameras during inspections
  • Understand steam efficiencies
  • Analyze and complete an appraisal spreadsheet
  • Present the customer with a final report that outlines the potential savings and emissions reductions that mechanical insulation can provide.

Students who pass the certified course exam are known as Certified Insulation Energy Appraisers. Certifications last three years.

Find out how much money and energy your facility can save.

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