Happy Monday and welcome to the final installment in my series of “Weatherize this” posts where I spotlight energy-saving home weatherization accoutrements that are mostly DIY in nature and don’t require a hefty financial commitment. Over the past few weeks, I’ve featured caulk, draft stoppers, plastic window shrink wrap, foam outlet gaskets, attic stair covers, chimney balloons, and even sweaters. It's certainly not the sexiest group of items, I know, but they can save you a few bucks on heating and cooling bills so you can go out and make more sexy household purchases ... on items like Sno Wovels and tubs of white vinegar.
A couple weeks back, I published a roundup of cozy throw blankets for around the house, so it's only fair that I feature blankets for water heaters. Yep, a blanket for your electric or gas water heater tank — they’re also called water heater jackets — but you probably won’t want to give one a pre-installation snuggle test. Water heater blankets are meant for use on older model water heaters with low R-values; the Energy Savers site recommends using a water heater blanket on any model with an R-value under R-24. If you’ve recently purchased a water heater, chances are that its R-value is suffice.
Given that water heaters are commonly installed in unheated areas like basements and garages, when hot water (around 140°F) in the tank is surrounded by cold exterior air (around 60°F), there’s significant heat loss involved. To check if that's the case with your water heater, place your hand on the tank. If it’s warm to the touch, it could use additional insulation.
With water heating claiming as much as 25 percent of home energy bills, every little bit of insulating assistance helps. According to Energy Savers, dressing a poorly insulated water heater in a blanket can reduce standby losses by 25 to 45 percent; this translates to 4 to 9 percent savings on heating bills.
Water heater blankets are generally inexpensive, in the $20 range, but can get more spend-y if they offer more significant insulation. Energy Savers offers a handy dandy installation guide for electric water heaters, but be sure to follow the instructions provided with the one you purchase. And it's worth pointing out that the installation process can vary between gas and electric models … installing a blanket around a gas-fired water heater tank is generally considered more difficult and less DIY-friendly. Most home improvement stores carry a decent selection of water heater blankets as does the excellent webstore, Conservation Mart.
And if you're looking to save even more, try lowering the temperature of your water heater to 120°F … most are preset at an unnecessary 140°F.
So folks, this concludes my "Weatherize this" series of posts. Are there any inexpensive, easy-to-install pieces of home weatherization paraphernalia that I neglected to include (I did skip over a couple standard items like weatherstripping due to their similarity to items that I did feature)? Do you have any energy- and money-saving home weatherization tips that you'd like to share?