Save Energy: Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

Just as you should insulate your plumbing pipes, your walls and roof, insulating your hot water heater is an easy and inexpensive way to improve efficiency and save money each month. If you have a new unit, it’s probably already insulated.

But, if you have an older hot water tank, we recommend checking it out to see if it has an insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If it does not, you may want to consider insulating the hot water tank. Why? Because by insulating the tank you can:

  • Reduce standby heat losses by as much as 45%
  • Save up to 9% on your water heating bill
  • The insulation should pay for itself within a year

It’s easy to find pre-cut jackets or blankets that are in the ballpark of $20. If you aren’t sure of your water heater’s R-value, all you have to do is touch it. If the tank is warm to the touch, then it would benefit from the additional insulation.

Before You Begin Insulating

Before you run out to the nearest home improvement store, call your utility company and see if they have rebates and if they offer water heater insulating blankets at affordable prices. Some utility companies are willing to install these for free or at a low cost.

Check your water heater to ensure that it does not have a leak. If the tank is leaking, you’ll likely need a new water heater.

If you have an electric unit, you may also want to consider insulating underneath the tank. If you place a ridged piece of insulation or bottom board under the unit, it could save an additional 4-9%, however, it’s best to do this when you’re installing a new water heater.

Your shopping list:

  • Marker
  • Scissors
  • Gloves
  • Dust mask
  • Electrical tape (most insulating blankets come with tape)
  • Water heater insulating blanket kit
  • Someone to help you (it’s a two person job)

Installing the Blanket

First, turn off the water heater. Second, measure the height of the unit and cut the blanket to fit. Be sure to leave the top of the water heater open so you don’t block the vent.

As you wrap the blanket around the water heater, use tape to temporarily put it in place. Use the marker to mark the areas for the controls so you can cut them out. Make sure the opening is at least 1 inch wider for the valve area.

Don’t forget to mark the area where the pressure relief valve and pipe are located as this is the pipe that comes out the side of the water heater.

Then, carefully line up the cut out areas and tape each one permanently in place. Once you are all finished, turn the water heater back on. If you have an electric unit, don’t set the thermostat any higher than 130°F. Otherwise, the insulating blanket or jacket may cause the wiring to overheat.

If you need professional assistance with a water heater project, call on our Kansas City plumbers at A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. today!

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