I spent the afternoon putting pipe insulation on the hot water pipes in the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH). I can’t believe how cheap the insulation was – around $100 for the whole house. Its price and the ease with which it is installed make it a must, in my opinion, for those interested in energy efficiency. Anyone can install this stuff, and the insulation is so useful because it just sits and works, saving you energy every single day and never breaking.
I insulated every hot water pipe in the house except for those running to the washing machines. We virtually never wash in hot water, and the washing machine pipes were difficult to access. Otherwise, I would have gone ahead and insulated them anyway (especially the tenant’s washing machine line because you never know what kind of habits people have).
And that brings me to my one beef – the plumbers didn’t do this for us, so when they ran the pipe they made it very difficult to reach some areas. To any plumbers out there – you should offer your clients the option of insulated pipes. If you insulated as you ran the pipes (for a new home, anyway), the extra labour would be negligible.
It’s pretty tough to reach some of the pipes (the red ones are for hot water, to point out the obvious) if they have been placed without insulation in mind.
I bought “Tundra” brand pipe insulation at Home Depot. It’s made of a foam that will melt at very high temperatures, so we won’t be using it to insulate the pipes for the solar hot water system. The high temperature stuff is made of rubber, and is much more expensive, so make sure you choose the cheap stuff for domestic hot water pipes (it was about $1.50 per six foot length).
An insulated hot water pipe in the kitchen.
Insulated water pipes in a wall cavity.
Whenever you gain access to any hot water pipe, be it while you’re doing renovations or if you’re building new, you should slap some insulation on it. Your reward will be cheaper hot water bills, less waiting for hot water when washing dishes or your hands, and a nice warm spot for you in the great eco-hunting ground in the sky.
(cross posted at raisingspaces.com)