Installing an insulation blanket around a hot water heater can provide significant savings in electric or gas fuel bills all year long, but especially during the winter season. Depending on how your water heater is constructed (all water heaters have some insulation inside the metal wall) adding an insulation blanket can reduce heat loss by anywhere from 20 to 40%. Insulation kits may be purchased at Home Improvement stores for $19 to $26 depending on the size and R-value. This initial cost can easily be recovered in the first year with savings in fuel bills which can be as much as 5% of your annual water heating bill.
Before purchasing and installing your own insulation kit and the other material you need for your DIY project you should first check with your local utility company (Gas or Electric) as some companies provide free insulation kits along with the best impact driver range at impactdriverguide.co.uk. Installation of purchased kits is a relatively simple task. There are different requirements for insulating electric vs. gas water heaters. These differences will be pointed out below.
Step 1 – Measure and record the height and circumference of your water tank. These measurements will help you select the proper size blanket to purchase in pre-cut kits.
Step 2 – At Home Improvement store purchase a pre-cut kit that meets your measured requirements. For best results only purchase a kit offering insulation value of R-8 or higher.
Step 3 – For safety, it is best to cut off the power to the electric tank before installing the blanket. On gas, tanks switch the thermostat to “pilot”.
Another safety consideration is ensuring that the heater is wiped clean and free of dirt and grime to avoid having these wrapped in the insulation blanket and later combusting.
Step 4 – On electric tank install top cap first by fitting the cap over the tank top and around any outlet pipes. Taped seams around pipes with duct tape. Tape edges overlapping edges of the tank down with duct tape.
Do not add a top cap on gas-fired water heaters.
Step 5 – Wrap the main body of the blanket horizontally around the main tank of the heater. It will be much easier to have a helper when doing this. Fit the blanket beneath any external pipes of the heater tank, and keep insulation away from the flue at the top of the tank.
Be observant noticing the location of the drain valve and the access panel for the heater.
Step 6 – If the insulation kit includes Velcro or other belts, wrap these around the tank evenly spaced one-third of the distance from the top and one-third of the distance from the bottom of the heater to secure the blanket. This will be easier if you temporarily secure the blanket in place with duct tape until the straps are in place.
If the kit does not contain straps secure the blanket in place first by placing ten-inch strips of duct tape horizontally at 12-inch intervals across the seam where the blanket edges meet . Once the blanket is held in place add a second strip of duct tare running vertically down the entire length of the seam.
Step 7 – Locate the heater access panel and thermostat and using a utility knife cut an “X” from the upper corner of one side of the panel to the lower and opposite corner. Fold the cut panels underneath the blanket to allow access to the panel.
Step 8 – Ensure that the blanket does not cover the tank drain valve or come within six inches of the flue at the top of the tank. If necessary cut blanket to avoid this.
Step 9 – Electric water heaters may also be insulated on the bottom of the tank. If your kit provides a bottom blanket tape this in place using duct tape.
Do not insulate the bottom of a gas-fired water heater!
Step 10 – Turn electric power on or the move the gas switch from “pilot” to heat position.
This is a project anyone can do and it saves energy both for the homeowner and the nation.