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Reasons to Insulate the Water Heater

Get the Water Heater Ready for Winter

Imagine having to brave the winter without the comfort and convenience of a water heater. The water heater is a great source of comfort throughout the winter, offering a comfortable way to clean up from a big meal or relax with a hot shower after a rough day. Colder temperatures in the winter increase the demand for a water heater and the work for the water heater. To ensure the water heater can meet the demand, homeowners should take one easy step. 

Insulating the water heater during the winter is the best way to prepare the water heater for the added work during colder temperatures. Water heater insulation can lower utility bills and reduce the likelihood of a problem. Here is a guide to insulating the water heater, including the benefits of water heater insulation and how to determine if a water heater needs insulation. 

Why is Water Heater Insulation Important?

insulatingWater heaters are manufactured with insulation as part of the unit. However, often there isn’t adequate insulation to maximize the efficiency of a water heater, especially in older or budget units. When good insulation is absent, the water heater must work harder to deal with the colder water coming into the home during the winter and the colder temperatures around the water heater when located in areas that don’t get properly heated, like garages and basements. 

Water heater insulation reduces standby heat losses and prevents the water heater from having to work harder and run longer. By insulating the water heater, homeowners will notice benefits like:

  • Quicker recovery times 
  • More abundant hot water
  • Lower utility bills
  • Increased efficiency
  • Less standby heat loss 

Ways to Determine if a Water Heater Needs Extra Insulation 

Almost every water heater will benefit from extra insulation, but some need it more than others. Newer models of water heaters come with better insulation built in, but older ones can often use the extra protection. Some of the easiest ways to determine if a water heater needs additional insulation are:

  • An R-value less than 24: Look at the nameplate on the hot water tank and find the R-value of the water heater. For R-values lower than 24, extra insulation is necessary. The higher the R-value, the better.  
  • Age of the water heater: Tanks older than five years become less efficient. The older the tank, the more insulation will help. Older models also tend to have less insulation built into the tank initially.
  • Warm to the touch: Carefully touch the side of the hot water tank. If it’s warm to the touch, it’s losing heat and needs to be insulated. 
  • Existing insulation is old or damaged: If homeowners have already added extra insulation to the water heater tank in the past, they should check if it’s old or damaged and replace it if so because the insulation doesn't last forever and can lose efficiency over time. 

Methods of Insulation 

insulationWater heater insulation can be installed as a DIY project, or professionals can install it upon water heater installation or during routine service. Water heater insulation comes in many forms, including fiberglass, foam, reflective material, and water heater blankets. 

Water heater blankets can also be made from several materials, but it’s vital to ensure that the insulation doesn’t cover essential controls or valves to prevent safety hazards. Many of these materials come in rolls that can be custom fit for any size water heater using special tape to secure them to the unit. 

About S and J Plumbing

S and J Plumbing strive to bring superior plumbing service to their Arlington Heights, IL community and surrounding areas. They provide upfront pricing, honest second opinions, and personalized solutions. Call them today for water heater services in Arlington Heights, IL.