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Water Heater Insulation : A Comprehensive Guide

September 25, 2023
A green water heater with a yellow cover going around it.

Water heating costs can significantly affect your energy bill, making it essential to take steps towards efficient use of energy in our homes. One method that’s gaining popularity is the insulation of hot water tanks or water heaters. Insulating your water heater not only conserves energy but also saves you money by reducing your energy bill. Explore water heater insulation and how it can benefit you.

Understanding Water Heater Insulation

Water heater insulation is a technique that involves wrapping your water heater tank with insulation blankets. These are designed to reduce standby heat losses that occur when the heater is idle. Standby heat loss means that your water heater must work harder to maintain the desired temperature, resulting in higher energy consumption.

The insulating process can involve both electric water heaters and gas water heaters, with each type requiring a slightly different approach. For instance, when insulating a gas water heater, care must be taken not to cover the top of the tank or the burner compartment.

The Benefits of Insulating Your Water Heater

A well-insulated water heater feels just warm to the touch, while an un-insulated one can be too hot to touch. By reducing the heat loss, insulation can improve efficiency and reduce your water heating costs. Also, your water heater could heat the water faster!

Moreover, the Department of Energy estimates that insulating your hot water heater could save 7% to 16% annually on your water heating costs. For older models or units located in unheated spaces, the savings can be even higher.

How to Insulate Your Water Heater

If you’ve never insulated a water heater before, you may be wondering how to wrap the blanket around the heater. Insulating a hot water heater is quite straightforward:

  1. Measure your water heater: You’ll need these measurements to ensure your insulation blanket will fit properly.
  2. Turn off your water heater: For an electric water heater, turn it off at the breaker. For a gas water heater, you can turn the gas valve to the ‘pilot’ setting.
  3. Install the blanket: Position the blanket around the heater, ensuring the ends don’t come into contact with the floor which could cause the blanket to wick up moisture.
  4. Cut out areas for controls and valves: You’ll need to mark the areas where the controls, the pressure relief valves, and gas valves are located and cut these sections out of the blanket.
  5. Secure the blanket: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to secure the blanket, usually with the provided tape.

Important Tips for Insulating Your Water Heater

While insulation blankets can significantly reduce your water heater’s energy consumption, some precautions are necessary:

  1. Never cover the top of a gas water heater: Covering the top could interfere with proper venting of flue gases.
  2. Avoid obstructing the thermostat: Whether you have an electric or gas water heater, the thermostat should not be covered. For electric models, this could cause overheating.
  3. Keep clear of the pressure relief valve: This is a safety feature that allows the heater to vent pressure, preventing potential malfunctions or explosions.

Additional Ways to Save Energy

Aside from insulating your water heater, there are other steps you can take to boost its efficiency and extend its lifespan. Sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank can reduce the efficiency of your water heater and increase energy costs. By draining your tank regularly, you can remove sediment and ensure your water heater operates efficiently.

Furthermore, installing a Corro-Protec powered anode rod can help reduce sediment buildup in your water heater tank. Traditional sacrificial anodes often contribute to sediment buildup as they degrade. However, Corro-Protec anodes use an electrical current to prevent water heater corrosion, meaning they don’t degrade and contribute to sediment.

By minimizing sediment, the Corro-Protec anode can further increase the efficiency of your water heater and extend its lifespan, saving you more money in the long run.

Wrapping Up

Insulating your water heater is a practical, energy-efficient way to save money. An insulation blanket can be an inexpensive way to reduce standby heat losses and lower your energy bill. The process is simple and usually requires only an hour of your time. Once you’ve wrapped your water heater, you can enjoy the benefits of reduced heating costs and an appliance that’s warm to the touch, not scalding hot.

Remember, insulation is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The results will vary based on the age and condition of your water heater, its location, and your usage habits. But for most households, this is a move that makes good sense for both the environment and the pocketbook.


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