Our hot water has always been pretty hit-or-miss. Some mornings, I would get up, turn the water on full hot until it warms up, and have to back it off to a comfortable temperature; others, I would leave it on full and have a lukewarm shower. I don't know if lately it had been getting worse, or if we just decided to do something about it, but we finally got an insulation blanket for it.
The difference was immediate. The very next morning, I noticed that the time I had to wait before I got hot water was dramatically shorter. And, the water was a lot hotter. It was very nice. Since it had been known to happen on occasion before, though, I was hesitant to directly attribute it to the new blanket; but we installed it on New Year's Day, and for the past five days since, the results have continued to be positive. I've also noticed that water out of other taps (like the kitchen sink, for instance) also get hotter water faster.
So how much money have we thrown away over the years? Honestly, probably not a lot. It's said one of the problems with a water heater is that it has to constantly re-heat the same water in the tank as it sits and cools when it's not used, and it would seem that our water heater didn't do very much re-heating once the water cooled. It's a gas-fueled appliance, and our gas bill during the summer months has always been pretty low. Although add on the amount of water dumped down the drain waiting for hot water to flow, and even if it's still not a lot, it's still waste. Plus, we've been throwing away comfort. Even if it's not a big thing, it's nice to know that we managed to do something to improve our lives. Not only is it an improvement, it helps to take the edge off knowing there are so many bigger improvements that we just haven't gotten around to, or can't afford, yet.