Insulation blanket or insulation jacket is used on water tank heaters to reduce the standby heat loss or energy wasted during water heating process.
If you have an older electric unit, buying hot water heater
blanket makes sense. To be sure is your water heater wasting
energy and un-insulated properly, touch the outer surface. If it feels
warm, your tank needs an additional insulation. We suggest you buying
an insulation blanket with the
higher "R" value (at least R-8).
Some manufacturers like AO Smith or Bradford White are
designing water heaters to meet or exceeds National Appliance
Conservation Act standards with the respect to insulation and standby
loss requirements, so using additional insulation is unnecessary.
These water heaters are equipped with 2" thick foam and R 8.33 or higher insulation value, therefore significantly reducing energy waste and heat loss.
Every manufacturer explains rules in their manuals when covering water heater with insulation jacket, so warranty in some cases can be voided if you don't follow the instructions.
We recommend using these advices so you will not encounter problems like restriction of the air flow, heater malfunction or even a fire.
Here are general instructions that cover important points on the unit that can be affected by improper water heater blanket installation, so provide enough space for the access, combustion air flow or proper work:
Draft hood (gas units)
Water heater access door
Shut off devices
Don't cover safety tags with warnings and operating instructions
Insulation blankets are on a long run good investment, especially these days when we have a rising energy costs. You can reduce your energy consumption by up to 10 % and make your unit greener with CO2 reduction as well.
You can buy water heater blanket at Home Depot, Lowe's or any other hardware store, or online like Amazon. For less than 20 bucks you can buy a jacket with the size that easily covers 60 gallon tank water heater, two inch thick, made of fiberglass with R-6.7 insulating value and with the included adhesive tape for easy installation.
To install insulation blanket is DIY home project that doesn't require any special skills. We suggest insulating hot water pipes also so together can work more efficiently.
Working on electric units is easier than gas or oil fired appliances. Be careful not to obstruct the flue at the top and burner area. Failure to do so could be very costly for you and dangerous.
Unless you buy pre-cut hot water heater blanket, you just need an adhesive type and scissors to cut out the areas so you can clear above mentioned elements.
Clean up the dust and wash the top surface so tape can adhere.
Take the measurement of the water heater.
Use scissors or utility knife to cut the insulation blanket to water heater size, but be sure to make it little bit longer (the length of the insulation strip should be the same length as the circumference of the heater, plus 3" for example).
Wrap the insulation horizontally and around the unit.
Always try first to see if the water heater blanket fits correctly.
Use duct tape to seal the seams where they meet.
Once wrapped and taped, find where the controls and valves are and make cutouts.
If you need an access to thermostat, cut a three-sided flap so the top edge is still attached, so you can always tuck it back.
For elements like drain valve, TPR valve make cutouts so they can be exposed.
Cut a cap of the insulation blanket to fit the top of the electric units, but never install it on gas appliances.
Tape remaining joints and seams.
Note: With the additional water heater insulation, do not set the thermostat over 130 F as the wiring may overheat.
Installing a rigid insulation under the tank can also save you some energy and money. Think about it when installing a new heating unit.
Picture is courtesy of US Department of Energy