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Make Your Water Heater More Efficient

Posted by on Jun 7, 2012 in For Your Home | 0 comments

Make Your Water Heater More Efficient

There are two easy things you can do to make your hot water heater more efficient.

First, go to the temperature dial and turn it down! If you never turn your shower or kitchen sink to the hottest setting because the water is too hot to use, you’re wasting energy because you are keeping a tank full of water at a temperature that’s too high. Occasionally you may need the water hotter, for example you may want to use the sterilizing cycle on your dishwasher for canning, and on those days you can turn it up again.

Second, keep your hot water heater cozy with a thermal blanket.

I’ll be honest, when I first heard about doing this I thought this was silly because I had never seen a hot water heater with a blanket. Since I had just been house shopping I had also been in more than my fair share of basements and thought I had seen it all. However, I did buy a house with an old, inefficient hot water heater sitting in the middle of an unfinished basement that stays cool year round, so I decided to insulate it.


When you are comparing water heater blankets there are a few things to pay attention to:

  1. Size: Most blankets say they will cover a 60 gallon tank, but it’s best to measure your tank to make sure. Once you measure the diameter add the thickness of the blanket to your calculation. Most blankets are 2-4″ thick, so if your tank is already 75″ around and the blanket is 75″ long, the blanket will be too small.
  2. R-value: Buy the blanket with the highest R-value, because the higher the R-value the more effective the insulation. If you are curious about R-values, more information can be found here.
  3. Tape: Most water heater blankets will come with the tape needed to secure it to the heater, but check to make sure.

I usually only see hot water heater blankets in the home improvement stores in the fall and winter, so I picked a out two blankets you can buy any time of the year. The first is the Thermwell Water Heater Blanket which is the same one I bought. It has an R-value of 10 and comes with the tape you need to secure it to the water heater. The second is the Thermalwell Silver Water Heater Blanket which looks a little nicer for those of you who may have a finished basement with a visible hot water heater.


When you are ready to install your water heater blanket you will need to have the items below on hand:

  • Warm water and a cloth for cleaning the water heater.
  • Scissors for cutting the blanket to the correct size.
  • Marker for marking the cut lines.
  • Proper attire for handling fiberglass. This includes a mask, gloves, hat, safety goggles and long sleeves and pants.

For your safety, follow the installation instructions carefully. When cutting and installing the blanket, you will need to make sure you can still adjust the dial, the exhaust is not blocked, and the insulation is kept away from the flame if you heat with gas.

Going Green and Saving Green

Hot water heater blankets only cost $15-$30 so most people will find that they pay for themselves within a year, and for some people they will pay for themselves within a month or two.

The return on investment depends on the efficiency of your hot water heater, the space where it is located and amount of hot water the house uses. If my hot water heater was newer, in an insulated enclosed room in the main floor of the house or even in the corner of the basement where the walls would reflect the heat and keep the air warmer I may not have seen as much of a savings.

However, considering the low cost, small time investment and lasting results, I recommend this project for anyone who wants to save energy and money!

Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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