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Fast Fact: Insulate your water heater

In most homes, heating water stands among the top energy expenses, accounting for 13 percent of the utility bill. What can you do?

Because water is constantly being heated regardless of whether a hot water tap is actually running, a good portion of energy is wasted when heat is lost to the surrounding air, which is known as standby heat loss.

Insulating the water heater and accessible hot water pipes reduces energy losses by between 4 and 9 percent and keeps more than 300 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

Most hardware stores carry water heater insulation kits for about $20, a price that repays itself in energy savings in just a few months.

For a detailed how-to, visit the U.S. Department of Energy's Consumer Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.