Insulation For Your Hot Water System

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Okay, this is the last article in my insulation marathon. If you have an older hot water system and it is not already properly insulated, this adding some more insulation is of the quickest and cheapest ways to save energy.

Most water heater’s storage tanks have some insulation as a standard feature, if you want to know if yours could do with a little extra, touch it – if it is warm to the touch it could use more.

Before I go any further let me draw a distinction between electric and gas, propane, or oil-fired water heaters. Electric water heaters are reasonably easy and safe to deal with on your own, but gas and oil-fired heaters are more dangerous so we recommend that you call in a licensed contractor to insulate these heaters for you.

Let me also point out that most new water heaters have sufficient insulation, and you can void the warranty be adding additional insulation, so make sure you know what you’re dealing with before you start.

To insulate an electric water heater simply follow the instructions on the purpose-built blanket that you have purchased. If the blanket doesn’t have instructions, or the instructions are confusing, you can follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy. Once you have your new blanket installed be sure to set the water temperature below 130 degrees F because the wiring may overheat above this temperature.

Another step you can take to save energy is to insulate your hot water pipes. Insulating piping can save energy by keeping water hot until it reaches its destination (your shower, sink, clothes or dish washer), thereby reducing the temperature you need to set your heater at by as much as 4 degrees F. You can buy purpose-built pipe sleeves for this job from your local hardware store. Make sure you match the external diameter of your pipes to the internal diameter of the pipe sleeve for a tight fit.

I think I’ve touched all bases as far as home insulation goes. As always, if you have questions give us a holler!

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