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Insulating hot water pipes

By Karen Tiede
Posted Thursday, February 8, 2007

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Moncure, NC - I debated the on-demand hot water heater thing myself but it lost to the simplicity and cost of a traditional hot water heater in the basement.

I insulated the hot water pipes when I moved in, and I have talked to people who never thought to do this. It made a tremendous difference in my house, which has a bit of "around the elbow to get to your thumb" plumbing. Maybe short runs are different. But insulation always helps. The water gets hot faster, stays hotter, and not as much is wasted.

No matter how rich you are, hot water never gets any hotter.

The cheap and easy kind of insulation is NOT code-approved (it will burn; use your own judgment as to whether that is a risk you can take); the code-approved insulation runs about $1/ft at the big box store and is very cheap if you can find it at Habitat--the Raleigh store's had it several times.

My plumber thought I was a bit silly to insist on it when I renovated a house (it doesn't get so cold here that it matters, in his mind) but it eased my water conscience.

I insulated my old hot water heater itself, too, because it was hot on the outside and the basement didn't need the heat, but the new one is always room temperature to the touch so they've improved the way the heaters are made.

A friend of mine used to say, "No matter how rich you are, hot water never gets any hotter." He told me he cranked his heater up as far as it would go and every morning, he had exactly the same shower experience as the Sultan of Brunei.

 
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