How to Insulate Your Hot Water Heater

newcomb-insulate-hot-water-heater

Should you wrap your hot water heater? There’s one easy way to tell – touch it. If it feels hot, it’s losing heat to the outside air and should be insulated for optimum efficiency and performance.

Once you’ve determined if you should wrap your hot water heater, how do you do it? Follow these quick and easy steps to learn how to insulate your hot water heater.

1. Determine whether your tank requires insulation. Most modern tanks don’t need extra insulation. If you’re wondering if you should wrap your hot water heater, check the R-value on your tank’s sticker. This number indicates how well the material your tank is made of resists heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better.

If the R-value of your heat tank is below 24, you should insulate it, even if it isn’t warm to the touch. If the R-value is higher than 24, you may want to consider insulation if it feels warm.

2. Gather your materials. To insulate your hot water heater, you will need a dust mask, gloves, electrical tape, scissors, and a marker. Some energy companies sell insulation blankets at a low price to encourage you if you are unsure if you should wrap your hot water heater. If your energy company doesn’t sell them, your local hardware store should carry an insulating blanket that will fit your hot water tank.

3. Turn off your hot water heater. You need to turn off power to your water heater. For an electric water heater, move the circuit breaker to the “off” position. If you’ve got a gas water heater, turn the gas valve to the “pilot” position before you wrap your hot water heater.

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 – a loose blanket won’t insulate your hot water heater effectively. Put on your gloves and dust mask and wrap the blanket around the heater, using tape to hold it in place. If you have a gas water heater, do not wrap the top.

5. Cut out spaces as needed. If the blanket covers any electric panels, gas valves, burner elements, pressure releases valves, or pipes, use the marker to trace the locations of those elements on the insulating blanket. Remove the blanket and cut out the spaces so that those parts are exposed and accessible.

6. Tape the insulation in place and bring back power. When you’ve cut out the necessary holes, you should wrap your hot water heater and tape it securely in place with electrical tape. Before you turn the power back on, this is the perfect opportunity to drain and flush your hot water heater. After all, regular hot water heater maintenance will extend the life of your tank and keep your water clean and clear.

7. Lower your water heater temperature. Now that you know how to insulate the water heater, you should lower the temperature settings – which will lower your energy bill! Most manufacturers set the thermostat to 140°, but that’s much higher than you need. Once you’ve wrapped your water heater, you shouldn’t set the temperature any higher than 130°, and 120° is perfectly fine for most households.


Now just wait for your next energy bill! You may notice the savings right away, and insulating almost always pays for itself after a year. If you have an electric hot water heater, you can consider rigid insulation or bottom board to save an additional 4% – 9% on your water energy usage. This type of rigid water heater insulation is easiest to install when you first put in your hot water heater, so if you’re buying a new hot water tank,  contact Newcomb and Company.

Any questions? Give us a call at 919-862-3000! Our technicians are happy to help you determine if you should wrap your hot water heater.

Need help? Call now.