Insulate hot water system equipment and piping.
All PIM content was independently developed and reviewed to be vendor-, product-, and service provider-neutral.
Insulating all domestic hot water system components as well as heating water and steam components will maintain water temperature in piping throughout the system and reduce both energy use for heating and faucet run times.
Project Talking Points
- Energy is lost through pipes, tanks, and equipment due to poor insulation.
- Excess water is consumed when users run faucets while waiting for the water to get warm.
- Reduced water and energy use can be achieved by adopting inexpensive maintenance practices.
Triple Bottom Line Benefits
- Cost benefits: Hot water insulation reduces water, sewer, and energy bills from reduced potable water consumption and consequent reduced need for water heating.
- Environmental benefits: Reducing heat loss lessens the energy consumed in water heating, curbing the associated emissions and strain on resources. By maintaining higher water temperature at the outlet, water consumption is reduced as the wait for running water to heat up is shortened. This decreases strain on the municipal water supply. Reducing potable water consumption decreases the total amount of water withdrawn from natural water bodies and protects the natural water cycle.
- Social benefits: Properly insulated pipes mean that heat will be better maintained in the piping network and users will have reduced wait times to obtain hot water at the faucet.
- Quality and outcomes - Metrics are in development. If you have suggestions, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
If you have suggestions for purchasing considerations, or suggested sample contract language for any product or contracted service, please participate in the discussion below.
- Install insulation around domestic hot water tanks.
- Inspect domestic hot water distribution piping for the condition of insulation and completeness of its installation. Look for insulation that is not sealed, un-insulated piping elbows, and un-insulated branch piping to fixtures.
- If fixtures take more than 20 seconds to receive hot water, consider installing additional insulation on the supply pipes or reconfiguring pipe distribution.
- Low-flow fixtures have less water moving to them so will necessarily require more time for water to reach the faucet outlet. The condition of the insulation and the configuration/distance of the branch from the main hot water loop can heavily influence the time required for hot water to arrive at a fixture.
Check ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings and local codes for required insulation thickness and material.
- North American Insulation Manufacturer's Association (www.naima.org),a tool for determining insulation requirements and effectivenes
- Whole Building Design Guide, Mechanical Insulation Design Guide. Includes an energy calculator for the impact of insulation.
If you have an ROI tool, calculator, or similar resources to share, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
Regulations, Codes and Standards, Policies
- ASHRAE 90.1: Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings sets the standard that most codes reference for insulation thickness and material requirements.
Cross References: GGHC
- Operations: Facilities Management Credit FM 2.1-2.5: Potable Water Use Reduction: Total Building Reduction
- Operations: Facilities Management Credit FM 4.1: Building Operations & Maintenance: Staff Education
- Operations: Facilities Management Credit FM 4.2: Building Operations & Maintenance: Building Systems Maintenance
Cross References: EEP
If you have sample environmentally preferable purchasing language for products or contracted services to share or other related resources, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
If you have any information or resources to contribute, please contact us or participate in the discussion below.
- Alliance for Water Efficiency, general water conservation information
- Hart, Gordon H., PE, Saving Energy by Insulating Pipe Components on Steam and Hot Water Distribution Systems (January 2012). Website also has general resources on insulation-related topics.
- North American Insulation Manufacturer’s Association
- North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, Water Efficiency Manual for Commercial, Industrial and Institutional Facilities
- U.S. Department of Energy, information on insulation-related tax credits rebates available across the United States
- U.S. EPA. EnergySmart Hospitals: Retrofitting Existing Facilities, "Quick Win” Energy Efficiency Tips for Facility Managers and Operators (March 2009.) This paper suggests reducing energy use of plug loads and installing insulation around domestic hot water tanks and pipes, among other actions.
- Optimize Operations
- Engineering/Facilities Management
- Comment, and please add information, tools, or additional resources you think should be added to the PIM.
- Write a case study or a PIM to contribute to the Roadmap (links are to instructions).