Bundle Up Your Water Heater When Temperatures Drop

January 17, 2017

If your water heater is located in an unconditioned space, you may be wasting energy dollars trying to keep the water in the tank hot during the winter. By just bundling up the tank, you could save on your wintertime water-heating bill by reducing standby heating losses.

If you have a newer water heater, it's probably already sufficiently insulated. But if your older unit has an R-value of 24 or less, it should probably be insulated to slow heat transfer.

Insulation, either pre-cut or a blanket you can cut yourself, is relatively inexpensive, and is an easy do-it-yourself project. Sometimes, local utilities offer the pre-cut jackets at a low cost.

Before you get started, check your appliance for leaks. If you have a leak, it's time for a new water heating tank.

How-to Steps

  1. Turn off the unit. For electric heaters, the turn-off is the breaker on the electric panel; for gas units, move the gas valve to "Pilot."
  2. The top of the unit should remain free of insulation so the vent is not blocked.
  3. Measure the tank from top to bottom.
  4. Cut the blanket to fit.
  5. Wrap the blanket around the tank, taping it loosely. Ends should not cover the access panel or panels.
  6. Denote with a marker where the controls are. For electric units, that will be two panels located on the side of the tank. For gas appliances, mark a hole around the burner and gas valves. Allow at least an inch extra around this area. Likewise mark around the pressure relief valve and pipe that juts out of the side of the unit.
  7. Install the blanket, then tape the ends together. (Note: You can insulate beneath an electric heater using ridged insulation or bottom board.)
  8. Turn the water heater back on. If it's an electric unit, don't set the thermostat over 130 degrees F or it might overheat.

To learn more about insulating your water heater, contact Lozier Heating and Cooling. We've been the 24-hour heating and cooling specialists of Greater Des Moines for more than a century.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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