DIY: Insulating Your Hot Water Pipes

On cold mornings, a steamy shower feels good, but the cost of energy for all that hot water can add up fast. You can take shorter showers, but insulating the pipes on your water heater is a simple way to save energy, water and money. All it takes is a trip to the hardware store and a little time and effort. The insulation will reduce heat loss in the pipes, allowing you to lower your water heater temperature setting. You’ll also spend less time waiting for hot water when you turn on the shower or faucet.

What you’ll need:

Before you start, gather the following items:

  • Tape measure
  • Pipe sleeves or strips of fiberglass insulation from your local hardware store
  • Duct tape or aluminum foil tape
  • Gloves (wear long sleeves and pants)
  • Scissors, box cutter or utility knife
  • Headlamp or flashlight if working in a crawl space or dark area

Choose the right insulation:

Determine the type of insulation you would like to use. Pipe sleeves are available from your local hardware store, although you can also use strips of fiberglass insulation to wrap around the pipe. For piping nearest the flue of natural gas units, your best choice is fiberglass pipe wrap. Make sure any insulation is at least 6 inches away from the flue.

Four easy steps:

Safely and carefully follow these simple steps:

  1. Starting at the water heater, measure the length of insulation needed to cover all accessible hot water pipes.
  2. Cut the insulation to the lengths needed.
  3. Place the insulation on the pipe with the seam or opening facing down.
  4. Tape the insulation every foot or so to secure it to the pipe. You can also use wire or cable.

This is a simple tip that should take less than three hours to complete and will save energy costs for years to come.