Energy Tip – Insulate Your Water Heater

I was sitting in the kitchen this morning when my 8yr old came strolling in with a big blanket wrapped around her (I remember those days when I would eat breakfast with a warm blanket around me). For some reason this got me thinking of water heaters on my way into work. I am a big believer in the tankless or hybrid water heaters, however some homes and businesses are better off with a conventional tanked water heater as opposed to the tankless or hybrid models. So if your water heater is one that is a conventional tanked model then you need to give that “girl” a blanket.

Here in the Kansas City area most of our water heaters sit in a basement or garage. The water heaters are constantly losing heat to the air around them. Think of your water heater as a biog thermos with a built in heater, as the “big thermos” losses heat to the air around it the built in heater automatically heats it back up. This is why you always have hot water ready to go at your faucets. This lose heat then reheat cycle is repeated over and over again through the course of the water heaters life. Unfortunately it is even repeated when we are not using the water heater like over night and when we are away from our homes.

One big thing that you can do is to wrap your water heater with an insulation blanket specifically designed for water heaters. You can purchase them at nearly any hardware store and they cost around $25. They are easy to install and this $25 investment will end up getting recouped in utility savings over just a couple of months.

Here are a few other things that you can do to improve your water heaters efficiency and help cut back on your energy usage:

  1. Turn down the heat setting a bit, do you really need it set as hot as you have it now?
  2. Insulate your hot water pipes in addition to your heater itself, again you can get pipe insulation at most hardware stores.
  3. Fix any leaky faucets; this one little drip can cause not only high water bills but also high gas or electric bills if it is on the hot water side.
  4. Insulate the room the heater is in, most of the time the water heaters are located in a cold area or basement room possibly even a walk out basement.
  5. Turn it off or use the vacation setting when you are out of town.

I hope that you found something in this article helpful. Please feel free to call or email me any suggestions, comments or questions.


James L. Gallet