According to the Department of Energy, insulating your hot water heater can minimize heat losses up to 45%, which means a more efficient heater and a warmer home. With that efficiency comes savings—potentially up to 16% off your heating bills. The installation costs are minimal, too: While insulators for hot water heaters can cost around $20, your utility company may offer them for free at a discount. For toasty rooms and lower bills this winter, head down to your basement and insulate your hot water heater this weekend.

What to Do

Insulate your older hot water heater to maximize its efficiency.

What You’ll Need

The Basics

  •  Gloves
  •  Dust mask
  •  Measuring tape
  •  Marker
  •  Scissors
  •  Hot water heater insulated blanket or jacket kit
  •  Electrical tape

front cover of guide book

How to Do It

While many new hot water heaters come pre-insulated, older models may need additional insulation to increase their efficiency and properly heat your home. If you have a hot water heater that’s warm to the touch, it’s a good idea to insulate it. Purchase an insulating blanket or heater cover or check with your utility company to see if they offer free or discounted blankets/covers.

First, check your hot water heater for any leaks. (If it’s leaking, you need to replace it outright.)

If you’re in the clear, turn off the power to the hot water heater. Measure the height of the hot water heater and cut the insulated blanket or jacket to fit. Once the blanket is the right size, wrap it around the heater, keeping the top of the unit clear. (On gas heaters, the vent is located on top.) Use electrical tape and secure the blanket just enough so it stays in place.

With a marker, note where the water heater’s controls are. On electric heaters, they’re typically found in side panels. On gas heaters, they’re the gas valves, burner, pressure relief valves, and pipes. Take scissors and cut corresponding holes in the insulating blanket so the water heater’s controls are accessible. With gas burners, make each hole an extra inch wider than the control area (e.g., the holes shouldn’t be snug).

Readjust the insulating blanket so the holes line up with the controls, then securely tape it in place. Restore power to the hot water heater. If you have an electric hot water heater, check the thermostat so it’s not set higher than 130° F to prevent overheating.

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The opinions expressed in this post are for informational purposes only. To determine the best financing for your personal circumstances and goals, consult with a licensed advisor.