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Properly insulated pipes pay off

December 18, 2023 | Eric BenSalah | energy efficiency, tips
energy efficiency insulate pipes

Nebraskans understand the importance of good insulation.

Insulation’s job is to slow down the flow of heat and help make your home energy efficient. We have all heard of wall insulation, but what about pipe insulation?

Your water pipes can and should be insulated, if at all possible, wherever they are exposed to an unconditioned space. Insulated pipes can help deliver hot water 2-4 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than uninsulated pipes. This can mean a lower water heater tank setting, too, which can help you save money.

Steps you can take

Here are some tips for how and where to insulate exposed pipes.

  • Use a minimum rating of R-4 for your pipe insulation. The most common type of pipe insulation is the tubular foam insulation. You can cut this to length and miter the corners. Be sure the inside diameter of the foam insulation matches the diameter of the pipe you are insulating. When the foam is closed over the pipe, you should not be able to see the pipe at all.
  • You can insulate any water supply pipe (coming from the water heater). Many water pipes run through unconditioned spaces (utility rooms, unfinished basements, etc.), and these should be insulated.
  • Insulate your hot water pipes from the water heater to the fixtures that use hot water (bathroom, kitchen, etc.). But, do not worry about any lines you cannot reach or get to. Insulate what you can within reason.
  • Insulate cold water pipes for the first 5 feet of the cold water line starting at the water heater. You lose some heat in this area when in standby mode (when no one is home), since hot water circulates by convection up into the lines near the water heater on both your hot and cold sides.
  • Safety tip: If the pipes are close to a flue, fiberglass pipe-wrap without a facing and wired into place is the safest choice. That wrap should be at least 1 inch thick.
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About Eric BenSalah

Eric BenSalah is an Energy Advisor for OPPD. After spending time in the field doing HVAC work, he joined OPPD’s Contact Center in 2012, assisting customers with energy efficiency and heating and cooling-related inquiries. Over the last three years, Eric revamped the Energy Efficiency webpages at and launched the new Energy Education Program. In his free time, Eric continues to play drums (for 30 years now) and is an avid reader of philosophy, astronomy, history and all things strange.

View all posts by Eric BenSalah >

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