Water heaters can use a lot of energy even when you’re not using hot water. A common culprit is stand-by loss which occurs when heat travels and is lost through your water heater’s walls. One way to combat this is by using a water heater blanket, which adds an additional blanket of fiberglass insulation to reduce stand-by heat loss. To determine if you need a water heater blanket, place your hand on the tank itself. The tank should be room temperature, if the tank is warm or hot to the touch, then you need to install a water heater blanket.
Water heater blankets come in kits that contain a blanket, straps and tape for approximately $20 (Lowes and Home Depot). The straps hold the insulation the water heater and the tape seals the seams to the insulation.
Here are some tips about installing your water heater blanket:
- Turn the water heater off before installing the blanket. Read all the instructions that come with the blanket.
- Identify and wash the area of the water heater where the blanket will be taped, so the tape will stick.
- Cut the blanket to size with scissors or a sharp knife, leaving some extra until you know how much you will need.
- Identify the pressure relief valve on either the top or the side of your water heater. Don’t cover this important safety device.
- For electric water heaters, you can insulate the top of the tank as well as the sides. Note where the two rectangular covers provide access to the thermostats and elements. Cut small flaps in the insulation to provide access to these panels.
- For gas water heaters, don’t insulate the top. Note the gas valve and burner access door near the bottom of the tank. Cut the blanket so it is at least two inches away.
- Install the blanket so that it is snug, and fasten it well so it will stay in place.
This long-lasting conservation measure will save energy for the life of your water heater.