Plumbing Contractor In Vancouver, B.C.

How To Insulate Your Hot Water Heater


Much like insulating your walls or roof, it’s easy and inexpensive to insulate your hot water tank to increase energy efficiency and save you money every month. Most of the new tanks do not require additional insulation. If your water tank is new, it’s probably insolated already.

If you’re wondering if your hot water heater should be wrapped in, check the R-value on the sticker on your tank. This number indicates just how good the tank content is made of heat flow resistance.

If you have an older hot water tank, please check to see if it has at least an R-value insulation of 24. If your heat tank’s R-value is below 24, it should be insulated even if it isn’t warm to the touch. If the R-value is higher than 24, if it feels warm you may want to suggest insulation.

Before You Start Insulating

Consult with your utility to see whether they sell insulating blankets for water heaters at low prices, or offer rebates. Some utilities also have these installed at low to no cost.

Ensure sure your water heater isn’t leaking. If your tank leaks, a new water heater is required.

You may also need insulating underneath the tank for an electric water heater. A ridged piece of insulation (or bottom board) can help prevent heat loss on the floor.

Gather Your Materials

You will need the following to insulate your hot water heater:

  • A dust mask and gloves
  • Electrical tape or any tape that comes with the kit
  • A marker
  • Water heater insulating blanket
  • An insulation blanket kit

Step-By-Step Instructions

  1.  Turn Off The Hot Water Heater

For electric heaters, switch off the breaker at the electric panel. For gas water heaters, switch the gas valve to the “Pilot” position.

  1.  Wrap The Blanket Around The Water Tank

If the blanket doesn’t fit perfectly with your water heater, you’ll need to adjust it yourself; a loose blanket won’t effectively insulate your hot water heater. Put on your gloves and dust mask and wrap the blanket around the heater, using tape to temporarily hold it in place. If you have a gas water heater do not cover up the top part.

  1.  Cut Out Spaces

For electric water heater systems, there will be 2 panels on the side of the tank. For gas heaters, you may need to mark an arch-shaped hole around the gas valves and burner. Make sure to leave plenty of space around the valve and burner zones. Make the gap at least 1 inch wider than the area around the valve and burner. Be absolutely certain that you don’t block off the air supply to the burner or you could create carbon monoxide. Mark the area in which the pressure relief valve and the pipe are. It is a pipe that sticks out of the water heater side.

See if any electric panels, gas valves, burner parts, pressure release valves, or pipes are covered in the blanket. Use the marker on the insulating blanket to map the positions of those items. Remove the blanket, and cut out the spaces to reveal and access those parts.

  1.  Install The Blanket And Turn The Heater Back On

Be sure to line up the cut-out areas carefully and then permanently tape the blanket in place.

This is the perfect opportunity to drain and flush your hot water heater before switching the power back on. After all, regular maintenance of the hot water heater will prolong your tank life and keep your water clean and clear.

Lower the Water Heater Temperature

Now that you know how to insulate the water heater, the temperature settings should be lowered–which will reduce your energy bill! Some manufacturers set the thermostat to 140 degrees but this is far higher than you need. Once you’ve wrapped your water heater, you shouldn’t set the temperature to above 130°, and for most households, 120° is perfectly fine.

Now when your next energy bill arrives, you will note the savings immediately, and after a year, insulation almost always pays for itself.

If you have any questions about how to insulate a hot water heater, give us a call at 778-397-4850. We will be happy to help you determine if you should wrap your hot water heater.