Just like insulating your roof or walls, insulating your hot water tank is easy and inexpensive, a way to improve energy efficiency and save you money every month. If the water tank is new, it’s likely already insulated. However, if you have an older hot water tank, check to see if it has insulation with an R-value of at least 24. If not, consider insulating the tank, which could reduce standby heat losses from 25% to 45%, and save you about 4% to 9% in water heating costs. This investment should also pay for itself in about a year, as you can find pre-cut jackets or blankets available from around $20.
If you’re wondering what your water heater tank’s R-value is, try touching it. A tank that is warm to the touch needs additional insulation, as it is wasting power.
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An insulation blanket can make some water heaters more energy efficient. If your water heater is located in unconditioned space (a garage, basement, or attic) or you don’t want added heat, install a heavy blanket — R-11 or better. The higher the R value, the thicker the blanket and the more insulating horsepower.
An insulation blanket is not recommended for a water heater located where its lost heat could be utilized. Nor is a blanket necessary if you have a new water heater that is factory insulated with R-16 or better. (The factory-installed insulation is located between the metal shell and the tank, so don’t worry if you can’t see it.) The manufacturer’s label will tell you how much insulation your water heater contains.
Purchase a water-heater insulation blanket as a kit based on the size of the heater: 30 gallons, 40 gallons, 50 gallons and so on. This kit contains a blanket that’s finished with white vinyl on the outside, and raw insulation on the inside, with enough adhesive tape to finish the seams.
1.) Turn off the water heater.
For electric heaters, turn off the breaker at the electric panel. For gas water heaters, turn the gas valve to the “Pilot” position.
2.) Measure the height of the water heater and cut the blanket to fit if necessary.
Leave the top of the water heater open—it is important not to block the vent on top of a gas unit.
3.) Wrap the blanket around the water heater and temporarily tape it in place.
For ease of installation, position the blanket so that the ends do not come together over the access panels in the side of the tank. Some tanks have only one access panel.
4.) Using a marker, mark the areas where controls are so that you can cut them out.
For electric water heater units, there will be two panels on the side of the tank. For gas, you'll need to mark an arch-shaped hole around the gas valves and burner. Be sure to leave plenty of room around the valve and burner areas below. Make the opening at least 1 inch wider than the valve and burner area. Also, mark the area where the pressure relief valve and pipe are. This will be a pipe that sticks out of the side of the water heater.
5.) Install the blanket.
Be careful to line up the cut out areas and then tape it in permanently in place.
6.) Turn the water heater back on.
Note: Don't set the thermostat above 130ºF on electric water heater with an insulating jacket or blanket – the wiring may overheat.
When in doubt, however, you can be sure that we at Climate Partners are here to help you save on cost with premium service. If you’re in New Haven and Fairfield Counties, CT, or in the surrounding areas, don’t hesitate to call 203-457-8581 or visit our contact page.
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