Hot Water Heater Insulation: Your Step-by-Step Guide

Just like insulating exposed plumbing pipes, the walls, and the roof, when you insulate your hot water heater tank, you’re improving its efficiency and saving yourself money every month. If you have a new water heater, it’s probably already insulated, regardless of the sized gallon tank you have.

But, if your tank is older, then you want to go take a look at it and see if it is insulated and if so if it has an R-value of 24 or higher. If it does not, your water tank is not sufficiently insulated, which means insulating the tank could reduce the standby heat losses by as much as 45 percent, and you could save up to 16 percent in heating costs, whether a gas water heater or an electric water heater. Insulation blankets are far easier to install that foam insulation or other extra insulation methods for hot water heaters, though foil tape or other extra insulation for hot water pipes can help as well.


Usually, once a homeowner insulates their water tank, they recoup their money within 12 months, even less if you have a large family that takes a lot of showers. Insulating your water heater doesn’t have to break the bank. It’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to save energy and reduce your energy bills. For as little as $20, you can find water heater insulation blankets or pre-cut fiberglass jackets that are a cinch to install, and improve the energy efficiency of your hot water tank and start realizing energy savings immediately.

Do you know the R-value of your water heater? If not, touch the tank. If it’s warm when you touch it, then it needs more installation, and since installing this additional insulation can be an extremely doable DIY home improvement project that many homeowners could undertake, looking into this is worth it!


Before You Get Started

Before you start your DIY project, follow these steps:

  • Call your utility company and see if they offer rebates or if they provide water heater insulating blankets at a low price. Some utility companies will install them for you at little to no cost. Otherwise they can be found on Amazon or other retailers by searching for water heater jackets, reflective insulation, insulation jackets, fiberglass insulation, or hot water heater blankets.  
  • Check your water heater and make sure it’s not leaking. If it’s leaking, you probably need to replace the unit.
  • If you have an electric model, you may want to add insulation (a bottom board) underneath the water heater as well. When you add a rigid piece of insulation or a bottom board under the unit, it can stop heat loss underneath the water heater, which could save up to an additional 9 percent of water heating energy according to the U.S. Department of Energy. However, it’s best to install the bottom board when a new unit is installed.

To install the blanket, you will need: 1) a helper, 2) scissors, 3) a marker, 4) a tape measure, 5) gloves, 6) a dust mask, 7) electrical tape and 8) a water heater insulating blanket kit.


How to Insulate a Hot Water Heater

Step 1: You will need to turn off the water heater.

Step 2: Measure the height of the hot water heater, and then cut the blanket so it will fit. Make sure you leave the top of the water heater open – you do not want to block the vent on top of the gas water heater.

Step 3: Wrap the blanket around the unit and use the tape to temporarily hold it in place. We recommend positioning the blanket so the ends do not cover the access panels located at the side of the tank.

Step 4: Use the marker to mark where the controls are located so you can cut them out. Also, leave plenty of room where the valve and burner areas are located below. When you make the opening, cut it at least 1″ wider than the area where the valve and burners are located. You also want to mark where the pressure relief valve and pipe are located. If you’re not sure what this is, it’s the pipe that sticks out of the side of the unit.

Step 5: Line up the cutout areas carefully and then tape up the blanket so the installation is complete.

Step 6: Turn your water heater back on. If you have an electric model, don’t let the thermostat get above 130° F with a jacket or blanket or it will be prone to overheating.


If you need a professional Kansas City plumber to assist you with a water heater issue, please contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service call! When it comes to reducing your water heating costs, choosing the best water heater for your home or a new water heater installation, it is almost always safer and recommended that you work with a professional plumber for the best long-lasting results.

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