Insulation Blanket for
Hot Water Heaters

Insulation blanket

Insulation blanket or insulation jacket is used on water tank heaters to reduce the standby heat loss or energy wasted during the heating process.

Buying a hot water heater blanket makes sense if you have an older electric unit.

It is easy to test is your water heater losing the heat and wasting energy. Simple touch the outer surface. If it feels warm, your tank needs an additional insulation. We suggest you buy 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 Energy Conservation Act standards with the respect to insulation and standby loss requirements. The insulation is thick enough so the standby heat loss is minimal and additional insulation unnecessary.

These water heaters are equipped with 2" thick foam and R 8.33 or higher insulation value, therefore significantly reducing the energy waste and heat loss.

Every manufacturer explains rules in their manuals when covering water heater with the insulation jacket, so warranty in some cases can be voided if you don't follow the instructions.

Why the insulation blanket is recommended

Here are the general instructions that cover important points of the unit, and which can be affected by the improper water heater blanket installation, lack of the access, restriction of the air flow, heater malfunction or even a fire:

  • Draft hood (gas units)
  • Thermostat
  • Controls
  • TPR valve
  • Water heater access door
  • Shut off devices
  • Don't cover safety tags with warnings and operating instructions

Insulation blankets are on a long run a good investment, especially these days when we have rising energy costs. You can reduce the energy consumption by up to 10 % and make your unit greener with CO2 reduction as well.

You can buy a 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 a 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.

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Installing the insulation blanket – Step-by-step guide

The installation of the insulation blanket is a DIY home project and it doesn't require any special skills or tools. We suggest insulating hot water pipes also so together can work more efficiently.

Working on the electric units is easier than gas- or oil-fired appliances. Be careful not to obstruct the flue at the top and the burner area. Failure to do so could be very costly for you, and dangerous.

Unless you buy a pre-cut hot water heater blanket, you just need an adhesive type and scissors to cut out the areas so you can clear the above-mentioned elements.

Clean up the dust and wash the top surface so the tape can adhere.

  • Take the measurement of the water heater.
  • Use the scissors or utility knife to cut the insulation blanket to the water heater size, but be sure to make it a 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 the duct tape to seal the seams where they meet.
  • Once wrapped and taped, find where the controls and valves are and make the cut-outs.
  • If you need an access to the thermostat, cut a three-sided flap so the top edge is still attached, so you can always tuck it back.
  • For the elements like drain valve or TPR valve make the cut-outs so the elements can be exposed.
  • Cut a cap of the insulation blanket to fit the top of the electric units, but never install it on the gas appliances.
  • Tape the 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.

Related articles

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Heating elements - Buying guide, testing and replacing
Thermostats - how to set, problems, testing and replacing
How to replace an anode rod
How to replace a thermocouple
Replacing a TPR valve
Dip tube - how does it work and replacing tips
Gas valve
Mixing valve

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