Every time you do the dishes, take a shower, or turn the faucet towards "warm," you are depending on the water heater and the energy it requires. Installing a water heater blanket could save energy and even money in the long run.
What Is a Water Heater Blanket?
Your hot water heater spends most of its time keeping the hot water in the tank warm. For most hot water heaters, some heat will leak out, causing it to use more energy keeping the water warm.
A water heater blanket is a simple layer of insulation that wraps around the water heater and is secured easily with special belts or duct tape. Some of them are covered with reflective foil to increase insulation and make your heater look even more like it's from outer space. This extra layer of insulation reduces heat loss and the energy required to maintain its temperature. Installation for an electric water heater is simple--basically just wrapping and securing--while it's a bit more complicated for gas heaters, which often require professional installation for safety reasons.
Potential Energy and Cost Savings
As a whole, water heating comprises about 17 percent of your home's energy use. Finding ways to heat water more efficiently will give the environment a break and save you money. The added wall of insulation that a water heater blanket provides can reduce your hot water heater's "standby heating losses" by 25 to 45 percent, thus reducing your related costs by 4-9%. A water heater blanket costs between 10 and 30 dollars, and will pay for itself within about a year.
Know When to Buy a Blanket
A water heater blanket will reduce your energy costs if your water heater is not well insulated. It will save you energy if any of these apply:
- Your tank's built-in insulation has an R-value of less than 24 (R-value relates to how well the insulation works)
- Your tank is warm or lukewarm to the touch
- Your tank is more than 10 years old
- Your tank is in an unheated space
However, in the case of some newer water heaters, a blanket is an unnecessary investment. If your water heater has insulation with an R-value of at least 24 and is in a sufficiently heated environment, it may already be insulated enough. If you are unsure whether one would be useful, try asking a licensed plumber.
Pros and Cons of Water Heater Blankets
While the advantages of water heater blankets are often clear, there are a few downsides.
There are several of advantages of water heater blankets.
- Easy to install on electric heaters
- Saves energy
- Saves money
Cons are virtually non-existent, though there are a few things to consider.
- Costs a little upfront
- Requires installation
- Can be difficult to install on gas heaters
Small Changes Add Up
The little bit of work and money required upfront will save you and the environment trouble in the long run. You can purchase a water heater blanket at most local hardware stores or even on Amazon. And remember, installing a water heater blanket is only one of many small steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Combined, these changes can make a big difference for your wallet as well as the environment.