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Insulate your water pipes

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Insulating your water pipes is an easy way to cut the energy consumption of your water heater by preventing heat from escaping. Water pipe insulation also helps to deliver hot water to your taps and showerheads faster, thus saving water as well as energy.

How to insulate your water pipes

All you need to install pipe insulation is a utility knife, acrylic or duct tape, and/or a cable tie. And don't forget the insulation itself! It generally costs $2-4 per strip and can be found at local big-box or hardware stores, or online. Once you have your supplies, all you need to do is:

  1. Measure the length and diameter of all accessible hot water pipes
  2. Cut your insulation to match your pipes' length and diameter for the closest fit possible
  3. Slip the insulation onto the pipes, and secure the insulation every 12 to 24 inches with tape or a cable tie.

Some notes regarding installation

  • The US Department of Energy (DOE) strongly suggests when installing pipe insulation near an oil or gas-powered water heater, you keep the insulation at least 6 inches away from the flue.[1]
  • Insulating the first 3 feet of the cold water inlet pipes is a way to further boost energy efficiency.[2]
  • Some suggest that acrylic tape is preferable to duct tape because it will last longer.[2]

Find it! Pipe insulation kit

Before you buy

Measure the circumference of your water heater intake and outtake pipes before heading out to your nearest hardware shop or big-box retailer. Knowing the size of your pipes will help you make better informed decisions and may save repeat trips to the store.

Insulating your water pipes helps you go green because…

  • It saves both energy and water. Water transported from your water heater to its end use appliance stays warmer, allowing you to turn down your thermostat by 2 to 4 degrees.[1] Insulation also helps bring hot water to your taps and showers faster so less is wasted while you wait for your water flow to heat up.[3]

Water heating accounts for roughly 15-25 percent percent of energy used in American homes,[4] making it the third largest source of residential energy consumption after HVAC and kitchen appliances.[5] Much of the energy expended on water heating in the home is used simply to maintain the heat level of water in conventional heaters while they are on “standby.”[4]

Insulating your water heater pipes reduces the average household's carbon dioxide emissions by 52 pounds per year[6] Every 10 percent reduction in water temperature results in a 3-5 percent reduction in energy costs.[7]

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