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Insulating your hot water pipes is a do-it-yourself project that might take only a few hours but can help you consume up to 4% less electricity annually.

Protected pipes reduce heat loss and can raise water temperature up to 4 degrees, allowing you to lower your water temperature setting, according to the Department of Energy.

Before you begin, determine what insulation material you want to use, how much you need, and the size of the pipe.  For electric water heaters, pipes sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam are popular.  On gas water heaters, insulation should be at least 6 inches away from the flue; otherwise, it is safest to use fiberglass pipe wrap without a facing and secured with aluminum foil tape.  

Next, head to the hardware store and your garage to gather supplies:

  • Tape measure
  • pipe sleeves or strips of fiberglass insulation
  • Acrylic or duct tape, or cable ties, to secure the sleeves - or aluminum foil tape or wire to secure the fiberglass pipe wrap
  • Scissors, box cutter, or utility knife
  • Headlamp or light

Now you are ready to begin:

  1. Measure the pipes - Starting at the water heater, measure lengths of insulation needed to cover all accessible hot water pipes, especially the first 3 feet of pipe from the water heater.  It is also a good idea to insulate the cold-water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.
  2. Cut the material - Cut the pipe sleeve or insulation to the lengths needed.
  3. Place the insulation - Position pipe sleeves so the seam will face down on the pipe.
  4. Secure the insulation - Using tape, wire, or cable ties, clamp or secure every 1-2 feet.