Insulating hot water pipes

Last updated Wednesday 30 April 2008

Keep your water warmer longer

If you're looking for a quick hit to save a little energy, insulating hot water pipes is an easy start and could payback a tenner each year.

Do you get a cold blast from your hot taps? It means the water in the pipes between the tap and the boiler has cooled since your last rinse. Wrapping hot pipes in foam sleeves stops them losing heat through contact with cold air. In addition to saving you from standing waiting at the sink, that saves energy, a little money and 70kg of CO2 each year. Pipe insulation is cheap and easy to fit, so this is a DIY option even if you're renting.

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Photo: Insulating hot water pipes

Saves about 70kg of CO2 a year

193 Bloomers are doing this

CO2 reduction 1 out of 5

Cheapness 3 out of 5

Popularity 3 out of 5

Cost 10

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How will it make a difference?

So long as your pipework is reasonably accessible, insulating it will cost about 10 - the same amount you can expect to save each year. And it will save 70kg of CO2 - about 15 times more CO2 than giving up plastic bags for a year.

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How do I do it?

  • Measure the length and width of your exposed hot water pipes
  • Buy enough sleeves and insulating tape from a DIY shop
  • Cut a lengthways slit in them with a craft knife, push them on to the pipes and seal with insulating tape (see DIYdata.com for a picture guide)

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When should I do it?

In the autumn, before it gets chilly, or when you fit a hot water tank jacket.

Remember: if you insulate your loft it's even more important to insulate your cold water pipes as well.

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Comments

Baz, Shrewsbury 2009-02-08

I have a particularly long pipe run to the bathroom, I lagged the hot pipe but in addition to that, I used palstic (JG Speedfit) pipe and it was cable tied to the flow pipe of the central heating, the lagging was then applied around the two. In the winter when the heating is on I get hot water quickly at this remote tap.
Lagging pipes will also prevent freezing if they are exposed to low temperatures.
So, what do you use as pipe insulation? Well you can buy the stuff, its good but it costs. If your budget is limited or demanded elsewhere, try bubble wrap or the thin polystyrene wrap that are used as packing or under lamiate floors, just make sure you have a good thickness, say 20 to 25 mm.
Currogated cardboard is also good, the single wall stuff that will roll into a tube easily, although rodents also like it. You could cover the pipes in roofing insulation or sandwich them between two layers, this is very effective. I think the key is not to be narrow in insulation choice and be a little creative and make sure that the insulation has no gaps and is secured well.

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CO2
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is made up of the elements carbon and oxygen. It exists quite naturally in our atmosphere, as part of the carbon cycle. Everyday processes in the plant and animal world both add CO2 to the atmosphere and take it out. However, because it is a greenhouse gas - meaning it affects the temperature of the earth - the exact level of CO2 is important. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2 into the atmosphere, hence the anxiety that extensive use of these fuels is causing climate change.

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