When many homeowners think about saving energy, they often head straight to their furnace or air conditioner while ignoring another important home appliance, the water heater. Hot water accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of the energy costs in the average household, and you can significantly reduce that amount by making sure your water heater is well-insulated.
Some water heaters waste more energy that others, and newer models tend to be much more energy-efficient than older models. In any case, there’s an easy way to find out if you need insulation. Using your hand, feel the side of your hot water tank; if it’s warm to the touch, heat is being lost and money is being wasted.
Insulating your water heater is the most effective way to seal in all that heat. Pre-cut insulation blankets and jackets are typically available for $20 or less, and you can even buy inexpensive insulation kits. Water heater insulation pays for itself in the form of energy savings within a year in many households. Look for insulation with an R-value of at least R-8.
Insulating your water heater is usually a simple do-it-yourself job that you can take care of in an hour or less, especially if your water heater is electric. Gas models are a bit more tricky, and may require help from a professional. Be sure to turn your water heater off and let everything cool before you get to work, and follow the instructions on the packaging. Leave the thermostat access panel uncovered. Depending on what type of insulation you get, you may also have to cut holes for your water heater’s fixtures.
Once your water heater is insulated, you shouldn’t set the thermostat higher than 130 degrees, both for energy efficiency and safety. Actually, turning the thermostat down to 120 degrees is a great way to save even more energy. You could also take insulation a step further by adding a sheet of rigid insulation board under your water heater. This will prevent heat loss through the floor.
For more information on the importance of insulating your water heater and other advice on home energy efficiency, contact Donald P. Dick Air Conditioning. We’ve been serving Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley for nearly 40 years.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about insulating your water heater and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
|Insulation image via Shutterstock