From Associated Content, by Eric Brennan:
The result will be cheaper utility bills without sacrificing water heat. You'll still have that steaming hot shower that you love, and help save our planet in the process.
If your hot water pipes are not insulated, you are literally washing away hundreds of dollars each year. Non-insulated hot water pipes reduce water heat by 2 to 4 degrees, causing your hot water heater to work harder and use more electricity or gas. Bare hot water pipes also make you wait longer for hot water to come out of the faucets, wasting valuable water resources.
In a few hours and for a little extra cash, you can go green and insulate your hot water pipes.
While it's possible to tape small strips of fiberglass insulation around your pipes, it's best to use a quality pipe insulation product. Speedwrap.com has one of the better hot water pipe insulators in the field. Using less insulation while maintaining its insulating properties, Speedwrap combines attractive Velcro covers with formfitting designs for individual areas of pipe. This creates a perfect fit that can be easily removed in case repairs are needed.
If price is an issue, neoprene and polyethylene foam pipe sleeves are typically the most common pipe wrap, and are some of the cheapest. These can be found at most home improvement warehouses and hardware stores. Don't forget to buy the correct tape. An acrylic black tape is the industry standard, although tie wire or zip ties work just as well.
Buy pipe sleeves that match your pipes' diameters. A tight fit is crucial to properly insulating hot water pipes. The pipe sleeve's seam should always face down, and it should be secured about every foot to prevent the sleeve from moving.
Insulate all hot water pipes, especially the first three feet of pipe that exits your hot water heater. Also insulate the first three feet of water pipe entering the hot water heater. This is because heat can escape from the hot water heater through the cold water pipes, too.
Gas water heaters need to be wrapped differently since insulation is flammable. Insulation and pipe sleeves should be kept a minimum of six feet away from the flue. In some cases, hot water pipes may be installed closer to the flue than eight feet. In this case, you'll need to buy a Fiberglas pipe wrap without facing. Use wire, not tape or plastic, to secure the insulation every foot. Tape and plastic are flammable and should not be used near an open heat source.
Once your hot water heater pipes have been insulated, you can turn down the hot water thermostat about 5 degrees. The result will be cheaper utility bills without sacrificing water heat. You'll still have that steaming hot shower that you love, and help save our planet in the process.
Author owns a construction company