“Jack Frost” can wreak havoc on your plumbing if you're not prepared. The sudden drop in temperature can put significant stress on your pipes, lead to burst lines and costly repairs. Don't forget your water heater, which will also be working extra hard to supply you with hot water during icy temperatures.
Fortunately, you can prevent those expensive repairs by insulating your water heater and your water supply pipes in areas where they’re exposed to the cold. Not only will your pipes be safer during cold snaps, but you’ll reap the additional benefit of lower water and energy bills year-round too!
Insulating Your Pipes
You may be thinking that the only pipes you should insulate are your cold water pipes since they are the most likely to freeze. While you are not wrong that hot water pipes are less likely to freeze in the winter, you can miss out on a few benefits year-round.
Here are the main benefits of insulating your water supply pipes:
- Less heat loss. Insulating your hot water pipes prevents your hot water from losing heat on its trip from your water water through your pipes to the tap. This means that hot water will arrive where you need it faster. This also means that you’ll spend less time waiting for hot water, and less cold water will go to waste down the drain.
- Less chance of frozen pipes. Insulation adds a layer of protection around your pipes during cold snaps. This decreases the likelihood that your pipes will burst and leak.
- Prevents buildup of moisture. Condensation around your cold water pipes can collect and result in water-related issues over time. Without proper insulation, excess moisture around your pipes can lead to water stains or mold growth, depending on where the pipe is located.
Insulating Your Tank Water Heater
Tank water heaters (what most Americans have) store water in a tank and periodically heat that stored water so that it’s immediately ready for use. The downside of this water heating model is that the tank is constantly losing heat little by little, and once the water gets below a certain temperature, the equipment has to warm it up again, even if no one is planning on using the water any time soon.
By insulating your water heater’s tank, the Department of Energy estimates that you can reduce those heat losses by 25 to 45 percent and save anywhere from 7 percent to 16 percent in water heating costs. Thankfully, insulating your water tank is easy if you plan to tackle this project without the help of a professional. You can purchase a cover or pre-cut blanket for around $20 to help your water heater retain heat.