The Power of Insulation
- Typical ROI: Less Than 6 Months
- Conserves Enormous Amounts of Energy
- Delivers Major Savings for the Life of a Facility
- Provides Immediate Reductions In Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Conserving Energy With Insulation
The most widely accepted benefits of insulation are energy savings and the resulting cost savings that can be realized. Energy is often the most costly component in managing a manufacturing facility and its processes. Reducing energy consumption reduces costs. Lowering costs is a continual objective within most companies. It may not be at the top of the list, but it certainly falls within the top ten corporate initiatives, along with improving safety, quality, shareholder value, and the environment.
With the high cost of energy and our country’s dependency on foreign energy sources, energy conservation is a priority with many companies. However, insulation is not normally at the top of the list of solutions because it is not considered an exciting topic. The rate of return on investment (ROI) is certainly at the top of everyone’s list of objectives. So properly designing, installing, and maintaining an insulation system should be, too. In many cases, the annual rate of return is more than 100 percent. Loss of energy can increase the temperature within a facility or area, putting additional stress on other equipment and reducing that equipment’s performance and life expectancy.
Energy conservation with the use of mechanical insulation, whether it is a hot or cold application, is simply an opportunity that should not be overlooked. As one facility manager notes, of all the energy-saving technologies available, a properly insulated system can provide the best ROI. It just makes good business sense to look at insulation first. Said another way, it is an investment that may have few rivals from a return perspective. Conserving energy with mechanical insulation is a quick and simple way to save both energy and money.
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Enhancing Employee Safety With Insulation
When was the last time you heard about mechanical insulation at a safety meeting? Protecting workers from contact with hot or cold surfaces should be a focus of any safety program. Another important safety focus should be protecting workers from excessive equipment or other workplace noise.
Insulation systems can be a vital component in applications related to life safety, such as applications for commercial kitchen ducts, return air plenums, protection of power and communication conduit trays, and other similar applications.
The role of mechanical insulation in providing a safe work environment is seldom considered. Far beyond the impact on a company’s bottom line is the very direct impact on its employees’ well-being. Can you think of a more important topic or better reason to think about insulation differently?
Reducing Energy Costs With Insulation
Corrosion under insulation (CUI) is a major safety and cost concern. It raises the question: If insulation is correctly designed, installed, and maintained in a timely and effective manner, is it possible the CUI problem could be minimized or even eliminated? It is an interesting subject, and there are many points of view regarding CUI. Moisture is definitely the enemy. The old saying, “Pay now or pay later,” applies to insulation in this case. By not properly maintaining an insulation system, you could be creating bigger or more expensive problems. If you don’t change the way things are done, you can expect the same results you’ve always gotten.
Reducing Emissions With Insulation
A reduction in energy consumption means less fossil fuel is being burned to produce energy. The result is a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere. These gases have been directly linked to global warming and pollution. This benefit is not being considered in many applications. Why not? Many people do not relate the reduction of energy consumption to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, you are increasing carbon credits. Reducing energy, reducing emissions, and increasing the availability of carbon credits: What a great win-win-win scenario.
Insulation can be a major component of employing sustainable design technology. Whether you are pursuing certification or just want to start thinking “green,” insulation systems—both individually or in combination with other building or equipment design options—can be vital to accomplishing your objectives. Environmental stewardship is not new, but it is no longer just an option. The economic case to build green is no longer the challenge it once was, and the potential of green buildings being mandated in many industry segments is real. Some evidence suggests that current planning, design, construction, and real estate practices contribute to patterns of resources consumption that seriously jeopardize the future of Earth’s population. The proper design, installation, and maintenance of mechanical insulation should be a major consideration in all sustainable design initiatives.
Insulation systems are needed to maintain the surface temperature above the dew-point temperature of the ambient air. Condensation is a real-world problem that, if not corrected, can certainly lead to other real-world problems. If designed, installed, and maintained properly, insulation can eliminate the problem of condensation. The damage caused by condensation is often understated. It is a potential safety hazard; it can damage surrounding surfaces and equipment; and it can be the primary cause for sustaining mold growth, affecting indoor air quality. It can also be a major contributor to corrosion under insulation (CUI).
Realizing a Return and Reducing Life-Cycle Cost
Insulation is a technology that can provide unrivaled rates of return on investment (ROI) and improve life-cycle cost. Yet, despite the overwhelming proof, insulation is often not considered from an ROI perspective. It’s not just about obtaining a return. After reviewing the significant rate of return possible, the more prudent question is: Why have we not looked at and implemented this technology in the past? Quantifying the rate of return is no longer a mystery; software and energy assessment procedures are proven and readily available. It has been estimated that a building’s initial construction cost represents only 20 to 30 percent of the building’s entire cost over its 30- to 40-year life. So the life-cycle cost of the total project deserves consideration, rather than focusing solely on the initial capital cost.
Improving Process Control and Productivity
Most processes involve fluid, air, or gas, and are designed to leave point A at one temperature or pressure and arrive at point B at another. The initial design incorporates a series of engineering assumptions. If the insulation system in the initial design is not installed and maintained, process control and productivity will suffer. A properly designed, installed, and maintained insulation system can provide the expected results. In many cases, it can even improve upon the results that are currently being realized.
Building a Better Work Environment
Study after study has proven that improved indoor air quality increases occupants’ productivity and efficiency. Noise control—whether it is in an office or in a plant—can increase productivity. Improved air quality and sound attenuation both benefit an occupant’s health, productivity, and overall job satisfaction. Insulation can play a major role in accomplishing these goals.
The Power of Insulation - Thinking About Insulation Differently
Thinking About Insulation Differently
Insulation is a proven means for conserving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing process productivity, providing a safer and more productive work environment, controlling condensation (which can lead to mold growth), supporting sustainable design technology, and a host of other benefits. It does all of this while providing a return on investment (ROI) rate that is seldom rivaled. Yet, insulation is often overlooked and its benefits undervalued. Insulation is truly the lost or forgotten technology. Can you think of a more important time than now to think about insulation differently?
A Proven Technology, Taken for Granted
Discussing the benefits of insulation is not an exciting topic to many people. An insulation system has no moving parts, gauges, or computer chips; it is often hidden from view; and its benefits are taken for granted. This leads many to seek alternative energy-conservation solutions that they think are more exciting or offer what they see as more quantifiable results. But those assumptions could not be further from the truth. A properly designed, installed, and maintained insulation system can provide shortand long-term benefits that exceed expectations, and the results are quantifiable.
Insulation—An Engineered Approach
An insulation system is a technology—one that needs to be engineered into and maintained throughout the entire process. It has been estimated that between 10 and 30 percent of all insulation that has been installed is now missing or damaged. This practice of not replacing or maintaining an insulation system in a timely and correct manner has led to the full benefits of insulation not being realized. In many cases, significant other issues—such as excessive energy loss, corrosion under insulation (CUI), mold development, increased cost of operations, and reduced process productivity or efficiency—develop.
Return on Investment and More
The power of insulation—its return on investment (ROI)—is no longer a mystery. There are software and assessment programs available that can calculate the amount of energy being saved with existing insulation systems or lost if the insulation is missing or damaged. They can also determine the potential dollar savings that can be obtained by upgrading an insulation system or replacing what is missing. These programs calculate the number of pounds of greenhouse gas emissions that could be prevented from release into the atmosphere, insulation thicknesses required for condensation control, personnel protection, surface temperatures, and the estimated ROI. The benefits of insulation are easily quantifiable in a timely manner.
Insulation Energy Appraisal Program
- Evaluates the Thermal Performance of Insulated Versus Uninsulated Piping and Equipment in Your Facility
- Translates Btu Losses into Actual Dollars
- Calculates Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Insulation is a seriously under-utilized, but proven technology solution that can save energy, reduce fuel costs and a facility’s impact on the environment. The role of insulation in energy efficiency and environmental preservation is clear. Every time a system is insulated it improves the energy efficiency of a facility and reduces the level of emissions of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. From an economical point of view, thermal insulation simply makes good business sense. A properly selected, specified and installed thermal insulation system can, in many cases, provide an excellent return on investment through cost savings.
The Insulation Energy Appraisal Program is a major industry initiative designed to give facility/energy managers a better understanding of the true dollar and performance value of an insulated system. Developed by the National Insulation Association (NIA), the program is a tool that quantifies the amount of energy and actual dollars a facility is losing with its current in-place insulation system — and demonstrates how a more efficient system can:
- Save hundreds of thousands of Btu.
- Improve process control and efficiency.
- Reduce fuel costs.
- Contribute to a cleaner environment through the reduction of emissions into the atmosphere.
HOW DOES AN APPRAISAL WORK?
Through visual inspection, interviews and analysis, an appraiser conducts a thorough evaluation of your facility’s existing in-place insulation systems. The thermal performance of insulated piping and equipment will be compared to that of any uninsulated, or underinsulated, piping and equipment in your facility. Based on the analysis findings, the appraiser will document the actual Btu/dollars/emissions you are saving/losing with your current system and the potential savings and reductions in emission levels possible with an insulation upgrade. Your final customized report will identify recommendations based on analysis findings and will calculate the potential return on investment through insulation optimization.
APPRAISERS ARE CERTIFIED
All certified appraisers are professionals. They receive intensive training through the fully accredited Insulation Energy Appraisal Program sponsored by NIA. They can provide you with an accurate appraisal of your current insulation systems and recommend the steps necessary to make improvements.
THE APPRAISAL PROCESS
The appraisal is a five-step process and may take two to four hours or longer, depending on the size of a facility and the scope of the appraisal.
1. Meet with Facility/Energy Manager The first step is an interview and discussion with the facility/energy manager and other engineering staff who know the facility well. This will determine the scope of the appraisal, the scope of a facility’s energy usage and energy distribution systems, and the cost to operate. The appraiser will also want to review the facility layout, facility drawings (if available), and determine the major sources of energy serving the facility.
2. Walk-Through of Facility Very often this step of the process takes place on a follow-up visit. During a walk-through, the appraiser will measure and document all applicable pipes, ducts and equipment including both insulated and uninsulated sections.
3. Customized Software Calculates Data Once the appraiser has completed all documentation, he or she returns to the office and enters accumulated data into the 3E Plus® computer program. This program was developed by the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association to put an actual dollar value to Btu losses, and calculate greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2, NOx and Carbon Equivalent (CE).
4. Final Report Based on the calculations derived from the 3E Plus® computer program, a full, customized report is generated which documents:
- The fuel cost savings with your current insulation systems and your potential savings with an insulation upgrade.
- The environmental impact in terms of reduced combustion product gases (CO2, NOx and other greenhouse gases) resulting from increased energy savings and reduced fuel consumption.
- The amount of energy (Btu) loss or gain from uninsulated surfaces in your facility.
- The amount of energy (Btu) loss or gain from insulated surfaces in your facility.
- The amount of Btu or energy loss or gain from a pipe or vessel if the pipe or vessel is insulated to the most thermally efficient, yet cost effective, thickness determined by the 3E Plus® computer program used in the appraisal.
5. Presentation of Report Within a brief period of time, the appraiser will present a customized report to the facility/energy manager. All financial savings information as well as energy and environmental data will be thoroughly explained at that time. The appraiser may identify recommendations based on analysis findings and discuss the potential return on investment from an insulation upgrade. If requested, the appraiser can provide a professional estimate regarding any insulation recommendations.
An Insulation Energy Appraisal Looks At:
- Pipe & equipment sizes and location.
- Piping and equipment geometries.
- Types of installed insulation.
- Installed jacketing materials.
- Ambient temperature.
- Process temperatures.
- Wind velocity.
- Design relative humidity values.
- Annual number of hours of operation.
- Scheduled down times.
- Different thicknesses of insulation.
- Energy sources.
- Efficiency of each energy unit.
- Type of energy used.
- Cost of energy.
- Current insulation thicknesses.
- Process & instrument drawings, if available.
- Insulation specifications.