Knowing how to insulate a hot water heater can help you save as much as 16 percent off your water-heating bills. Adding an insulation jacket around the hot water tank and related fixtures can lower standby heat losses by as much as 45 percent.
Indeed, that’s great news! But how do you improve your water heater’s insulation DIY style? Never fret because we’ll share four effortless steps to apply an insulation material to your water heater.
Table of Contents
Step-by-step to Insulate a Hot Water Heater
What to prepare
You will work with a heating appliance. Hence, we must emphasize observing safety precautions, including powering off the unit. Then, you can prepare the following items.
- An appropriate water heater insulation blanket kit
- Tape measure
- Scissors or cutter
- Dust mask and electrical-resistant gloves
- Adhesive tape
- Also, you need a helping hand for this task.
Insulating a water heater in garage units or any other space in the house is as straightforward as observing the following four steps.
Step 1. Prepare the materials.
The energy savings you get for insulating a water heater depends on the quality of the insulation wrap. You have several options.
- Contact the water heater company and ask if they sell water heater covers specific to your unit’s type and model. This action helps you buy an insulating material with cutouts precisely measured for your water heater.
- Shop for suitable insulation at a hardware store if the water heater company doesn’t have one. Watch out for cheap knockoffs that might not minimize standby heat loss.
- Consider the following factors when buying a water heater blanket.
- Material – Fiberglass is a highly effective insulator but is pricey and messy. Foil is flexible, affordable, and easy to install but less effective than fiberglass.
- R-value – The higher the material’s R-value, the greater its insulating power. We recommend a heater blanket with an R-value of at least R-8 (R-24 for older water heaters).
- Fire resistance – Water heaters are hot. You don’t want the insulating material to catch fire.
Step 2. Prepare the water heater.
This next step is crucial for your safety. Please don’t neglect this procedure. It’s the US Department of Energy’s first step in applying insulation for hot water heater units.
- Power off an electric water heater by flipping its corresponding circuit breaker switch at the house’s electrical panel.
- Cut off fuel to the gas water heater by locating the gas control valve at the hot water tank’s side. You can find a knob on a box. Twist this knob, ensuring its pointer is at the PILOT mark.
Step 3. Prepare the water heater insulation.
1. Did you know you can skip this step if you pick an insulating material specific to your water heater type and brand? Assuming you only have a generic thermal blanket for your water heater, here’s how to modify it to fit the appliance.
2. Wear gloves and a mask when working with fiberglass or foil-covered insulation.
Ask an assistant to help wrap the insulating material around the water heater. Ensure a snug fit around the appliance.
Note: Please don’t cover a gas water heater’s top with insulation.
3. Ask the assistant to hold the insulation while you secure it temporarily with tape.
4. Identify the location of the water heater’s access panels, T&P relief valves, burner elements, gas valves, and other components. You can also consider insulation for copper hot water pipes.
5. Trace the water heater components with a marker.
6. Remove the water heater blanket and cut the trace lines for the different components. You don’t want the insulation to cover these items.
Bonus Tip: You can measure the water heater’s dimensions, including the location of different components, instead of wrapping the blanket around the appliance.
Step 4. Install the water heater insulation and finish up.
You’re ready to insulate a gas water heater (or an electric version). Please observe the following steps.
1. Ask your assistant to grab one end of the water heater blanket as you position it over the appliance.
Ensure the cutouts align with their respective water heater components.
2. Instruct the assistant to hold the water heater insulation, ensuring it doesn’t move while securing it with adhesive tape.
3. Consider draining and flushing your water heater if you haven’t done it this year, since the water should be cool by now. Doing so can help extend the appliance’s lifespan while ensuring cleaner water. Amplify DIY has a video for flushing a water heater worth checking out.
4. Reestablish the fuel supply (or electricity) to the water heater and set it to your desired temperature.
Pro Tip: Avoid setting the water heater’s thermostat higher than 130 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent overheating the appliance’s wirings. Moreover, this action allows you to lower your water-heating energy expenditures.
If you’re a visual learner, we recommend watching this YouTube video from Georgia Power. Insulating a water heater should be a breeze.
Tips for Improved Efficiency
Insulating water heaters is one of the many ways to improve efficiency. The following tips can bring more savings to your water heating.
- Reduce hot water consumption, especially during winter. You could take quicker showers, observe efficient dishwasher loading cycles, and use cold water for laundry.
- Replace hot water taps and showerheads with more efficient options, including low-flow fixtures and faucet aerators.
- Set the water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to enjoy up to a ten percent reduction in energy expenditure.
- Insulate plumbing fixtures and pipes to reduce standby heat losses.
- Drain the hot water tank periodically.
The four ridiculously easy steps on how to insulate a hot water heater we outlined in this guide can build your confidence. You can complete this project in under an hour, maybe shorter if you get a pre-cut thermal blanket specific to your water heater’s type, brand, and model.
More importantly, insulating a water heater lets you enjoy energy savings with your family. Sixteen percent savings might not seem much. But if you’re paying $500 for your water-heating energy bills, 80 dollars is enough to buy your kids trinkets or treat them at a restaurant.
As the founder of Usawaterquality, I have been working to deliver quality advice on utilizing water components for numerous households. Here, we believe that water quality is the most critical part of health care, so the investment and attention for the water system will never go to waste.