Properly installed heat tape is one way to ensure that susceptible water pipes remain unfrozen in winter. However, it is often only a temporary fix, and the tape can be expensive to operate for long periods of time. Properly insulating pipes from the cold is usually a more efficient solution.
Since heat tape uses electrical resistance to generate heat, these installations use electricity as long as they're plugged in. Heat tape with a built-in thermostat can switch the heating on and off as needed, reducing the overall energy cost of keeping pipes unfrozen. In order to keep utility costs low, homeowners should only resort to heat tape when necessary.