The Importance of Insulating Your Water Heater System

Is your water heater system insulated? If not, you could be wasting time, money and energy. An insulated water heater system reduces heat loss so you don’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or shower head. This helps conserve water. Also, insulating hot water pipes raises water temperature 2ºF–4ºF, compared to uninsulated pipes, allowing for a lower hot water temperature setting.

Additionally, insulating your water heater system reduces the average household’s carbon dioxide emissions by 52 pounds per year. Every 10 percent reduction in water temperature results in a 3-5 percent reduction in energy costs.

Types of Insulation

The most commonly used types of insulation are pipe insulation wrap, called pipe sleeves. They’re typically made with polyethylene, neoprene foam or fiberglass. Pipe sleeves are assigned with an R value, which is a measure of how well insulation keeps in heat. The higher the R value, the better.


It’s important that all accessible hot water pipes located within 3 feet of the water heater are insulated. However, be careful that a fire hazard isn’t created by having something insulated that was not meant to be insulated, or by installing flammable insulation near a high heat source.

Also, make sure the pressure relief valve is not insulated. It’s typically mounted on the top or the side of the hot water heater. This valve is a couple of inches high, has a small lever on top of the valve, and has an overflow pipe coming out of the side and down to the floor.

If you have any questions about the insulation of your water heater system, or you have general questions about water heaters, give us a call. At Barker and Sons plumbing in Orange County, we’re happy to give you our two cents if it will save you a few cents every time you run your faucets.