Adding a blanket of insulation on your water heater is an easy do-it-yourself project. Traditional water heaters waste about half the energy use because they keep 40 or more gallons of water hot all the time. They use energy first to heat cold water and then they use more energy to keep the water hot.
The heat in the 130 or so degree water will flow to a cooler location like your basement or garage. The insulation that the manufacturer installed does slow down the waste of heat, but you can do better.
Adding more insulation will slow down the waste of energy even more. But, my water heater tank does not feel warm.
The metal jacket on the outside of your water heater dissipates heat so quickly that it will not feel warm to the touch.
Try this science experiment. Fold a bath towel so it is a double thickness and tape it to the out side of your hot water tank. Wait 17 minutes. Why wait 17 minutes, because 13 minutes is not long enough. Stick you hand under the towel. The warmth you feel now is the heat that is held back by the insulation of the towel.
There are two ways to attack the project of slowing down the waste of energy.
One is to buy an insulation blanket kit and put it on the water heater tank. Click here for some that I recommend from Amazon. These are easy to work with, involving little or no cutting. Just wrap the insulation around the tank and tape it in place. The one I used made a neat job of it.
He second way to go is to buy a kit that includes a radiant barrier along with the insulation. This is a doubly play that slows down the conductive loss of energy and reflects radiant heat back into the water heater tank. They are a little more money but they are more effective. I recommend the water heater jacket from Energy Efficient Solutions.
If you heat the water with electrical power, I recommend using both.
I would put the radiant barrier on first then covered it up with the plain insulation blanket. It looks neater with the white cover on the outside.
If all else fails read the directions that came with the kit you bought.
It is better to do the job with two people. One person holds the blanket from slipping out of position and the other one tapes the joint where the blanket over laps. I did mine working alone. I used duct tape to hold the blanket in place while I put the clean white tape on the blanket joint.
Keep the insulation blanket up a few inches off the floor so when the floor gets wet the insulation will stay dry.
For gas fired water heaters you must keep the burner air intake clear.
Do this by either keeping the blanket a foot or more up off the floor or by making a cut outs in the insulation blanket. Make sure the blanket cannot slip down over the gas burner. I used two long strips of tape over the top of the heater tank to work like my suspenders. Suspenders keep my trousers up; why not use the same idea on the water heater blanket?
These are safety issues: • Do not block the airflow in the bottom of the heat or out the top. • Do not insulate the top of a gas fired water heater.
You should insulate the top if an electric water heater.
When I finished putting a fiberglass blanket kit on our gas fired water heater, I stuck my hand up under the insulation. It was a lot warmer than I had expected. That proved that a lot of expensive heat was escaping before I added the insulation.
I stepped back to look at my finished job, and laughed. It looked like a short white sack dress held up by a pair of suspenders. Saving money on energy bills is beautiful no mater what it looks like.
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