While new hot water tanks rarely require external insulation, properly wrapping an older tank can lower your utility costs. According to the US Department of Energy, insulating a hot water heater can shave between 4% and 9% from your water heating costs – that’s quite a payoff for the hour or so it takes to insulate your tank!
Here’s how to insulate your hot water tank and reduce your water heating expenses:
1. Determine whether your tank requires insulation. Most modern tanks don’t need extra insulation. If your tank is older and is hot to the touch, check whether it has an R-value of at least 24. Most models have a sticker somewhere on the tank that indicates the R-value. If it’s below 24, you should insulate it.
2. Gather your materials. To insulate your hot water heater, you will need a dust mask, gloves, electrical tape, scissors, and a marker. Contact your energy company to see if they sell insulation blankets at a low price. If not, your local hardware store should carry a blanket that fits your heater (or comes close).
3. Turn off your hot water heater. For an electric water heater, find the corresponding circuit breaker and move it to the “off” position. If you have a gas water heater, turn the gas valve to the “pilot” position.
4. Wrap the blanket around your tank. If the blanket doesn’t fit your water heater perfectly, you will need to custom fit it yourself. Put on your gloves and dust mask and wrap the blanket around the heater, using tape to hold it in place. Leave the access panel exposed and do not wrap the top of a gas water heater.
5. Cut out spaces as needed. If the blanket covers any electric panels, gas valve and burner elements, or the pressure release valve and pipe, use the marker to indicate those spaces on the blanket. Then cut out spaces in the blanket so those parts are left exposed.
6. Tape the insulation in place. When your blanket fits nicely and you’ve finished all the necessary trimming, secure the insulation in place with electrical tape.
Now just wait for your next energy bill! You may notice the savings right away, and insulting almost always pays for itself after a year. If you have questions about insulating your hot water heater, contact Newcomb and Company. We’ll help you determine whether your tank could use additional insulation.