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The Importance of Pipework Insulation

In the quest for energy efficiency, one often overlooks the potential savings hidden within the walls and floors of our homes. Pipe insulation, also known as pipe lagging, is a simple yet effective solution that can significantly reduce energy loss, prevent freezing, minimise condensation, and enhance acoustic absorption. By investing in this overlooked aspect of home insulation, homeowners can enjoy numerous benefits, including substantial energy savings, increased comfort levels, and prolonged lifespan of the heating system and boiler components.

Energy Savings and Return on Investment

According to Rockwool, a leading insulation manufacturer, applying insulation to hot pipes can result in energy savings of up to 20%. These savings can lead to a return on investment within a mere three years. By effectively reducing heat loss from unheated areas in our homes and preserving the heat energy within the pipework, insulated heating systems maintain the optimum flow temperature set by the boiler. This allows the heat to be distributed further around the system, reaching the emitters and reducing overall energy consumption.

Enhanced Comfort and Efficiency

Insulated pipework offers more than just energy savings. It also brings about increased comfort levels within the home. Insulation allows the temperature within the pipes to remain 2 to 4 degrees higher compared to uninsulated pipework. This, in turn, enables homeowners to lower the output temperature of their boilers without compromising the comfort provided by the heating system. Additionally, when combined with "weather compensation" or "load compensation" controls, the benefits of pipework insulation become even more pronounced. Lower heating curves can be achieved, and both flow and return temperatures can be significantly reduced, resulting in optimized efficiency and enhanced comfort.

Areas Requiring Lagging

To fully leverage the benefits of pipework insulation, it is essential to identify the areas that require lagging. Here are the key areas that should be insulated:

Hot water storage vessel

All pipework connected to the hot water storage vessel, including the vent pipe, should be insulated for at least 1 meter from their point of connection to the cylinder.

Boiler flow and return pipes

Insulate the primary flow and return pipes from the boiler to prevent heat loss and maintain the desired temperature.

Hot water pipes

Insulate the hot water pipes located under sinks, basins, and behind bath panels to preserve heat and minimize energy wastage.

Central heating pipework

All heating pipes should be insulated, particularly under the floors leading to the radiators. This ensures efficient heat distribution throughout the system.

Domestic hot water circulation pipes

Insulate the primary circulation pipes for domestic hot water circuits. The insulation should cover the entire length, except in cases where practical constraints exist, such as the need to penetrate joists or other structural elements. If secondary circulation is employed, all pipes involved in the circulation should be insulated.


The Pipes That Require Lagging

  • All pipework connected to hot water storage vessel, including the vent pipe, should be insulated for at least 1m from their point of connection to the cylinder.
  • Primary flow and return pipes from the boiler.
  • The hot water pipes, under sinks, basins and behind the bath panels.
  • Central heating pipework – all heating pipes should be insulated under the floors to the radiators.
  • Primary circulation pipes for domestic hot water circuits should be insulated throughout their length, subject only to practical constraints imposed by the need to penetrate joists and other structural elements.
  • If secondary circulation is used, all pipes kept hot by that circulation should be insulated.


Choosing the Right Insulation Material

When installing insulation materials for pipework, it is crucial to select the right product. The insulation should be of the closed-cell type such as Armacell - ArmaFlex Class 0, featuring mitred joints and the use of adhesives on all seamed joints. Furthermore, the thickness of the insulation should be determined to provide protection for up to 12 hours. The thermal conductivity of the chosen insulation should not exceed 0.045 W/m K, ensuring optimal thermal performance.


Comparing Insulation Thickness

When comparing insulation brands, it is important to cross-reference the technical details of the products. By doing so, one can determine the appropriate thickness of insulation required. A low thermal conductivity allows thinner insulation to achieve the specified thermal performance standards. Careful consideration and evaluation of various brands' technical specifications will provide valuable guidance when deciding on the appropriate thickness of insulation to use.

Thickness of insulation for cold water pipework

To prevent freezing to pipework within and outside the insulated envelop of the building 

Thickness of insulation for heating system pipework

Minimum thickness of insulation in (mm) required with a thermal conductivity at 40°C (W/m K)

Pipe insulation, often overlooked, holds tremendous potential for maximizing energy efficiency in homes. By properly insulating hot and cold pipework, homeowners can reap numerous benefits, including substantial energy savings, increased comfort levels, and prolonged lifespan of heating system components. Remember to insulate key areas such as hot water storage vessels, boiler pipes, hot water pipes, central heating pipework, and domestic hot water circulation pipes. Choosing the right insulation material and determining the appropriate thickness are critical steps in ensuring optimal performance. Embrace the power of pipework insulation and unlock its transformative impact on your home's energy efficiency.

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