How To Buy And Install A Water Heater Insulation Blanket

Installing a water heater insulation blanket or insulation jacket is a popular, affordable, and effective way to reduce standby heat loss and save energy during the heating process.

Insulating your water heater is an easy DIY home project that improves efficiency and saves money. According to studies, properly installed insulation can save you approximately 12% on water heating costs, with a standby heat loss reduction ranging from 25% to 45%.

How To Install A Water Heater Insulation Blanket
Insulation blanket for water heaters (photo:

Purchasing a water heater insulation blanket often makes sense if you have an older, low-efficiency unit located in a cold basement, garage, or utility room.

Water Heater Insulation Blankets: Things To Consider

It is easy to check if your water heater is losing heat and wasting energy. Simply touch the outer surface. If it feels warm, your tank is losing heat and may require additional insulation. We recommend purchasing an insulation blanket with a higher ‘R’ value.

Some manufacturers, like AO Smith or Bradford White, design water heaters to meet or exceed National Appliance Energy Conservation Act standards concerning insulation and standby loss requirements. The insulation is thick enough, so the standby heat loss is minimal and additional insulation unnecessary.

These devices are equipped with 2″ thick foam and R-8 or higher insulation value, significantly reducing energy waste and heat loss.

The best water heater blankets are made of quality materials, including thick fire-resistant fiberglass options, while cheaper models come with foam, cotton, and foil variants.

They come in different sizes, ranging from 30 to 100 gallons, where those designed for the 40 and 50 gallons tanks are the most common in residential homes. And don’t worry when selecting the size because manufacturers label their blankets according to the size of the tank to be covered.

In addition to quality, the thickness of the blanket is an important factor to consider, as thicker blankets provide better insulation. Cheaper models often have a thickness of one inch, while higher-quality options can be 3-5 inches thick.

Water heater blankets come with different insulation ratings, often indicated by their R-value, particularly for fiberglass types. A higher insulation value translates to more energy savings. Look for models with an R-value of at least 10, although R-7 and R-8 are the most common ratings.

It’s important to consult the manufacturer’s instructions when covering a water heater with an insulation jacket, as failure to follow the guidelines may void the warranty in some cases.

Additionally, be aware that local codes and regulations may prohibit the installation of insulation blankets in certain areas.

Why Installing A Water Heater Insulation Blanket Is Recommended

Here are some general instructions that cover important points of the unit, which can be affected by improper water heater blanket installation, lack of access, restrictions in airflow, heater malfunction, or even fire:

  • Draft hood (gas units)
  • Thermostat
  • Controls
  • TPR valve
  • Water heater access door
  • Shut off devices
  • Don’t cover safety tags with warnings and operating instructions

In the long run, insulation blankets are a good investment, especially with rising energy costs. They can reduce energy consumption by up to 20% and contribute to a greener environment through CO2 reduction as well.

You can purchase a water heater blanket at Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other well-equipped hardware stores, or online platforms like Amazon.

For less than 20 bucks, you can buy a two-inch-thick insulating jacket made of fiberglass with an R-6.7 insulation value, designed to easily cover a 60-gallon tank water heater. It also includes adhesive tape for easy installation.

Installing A Water Heater Insulation Blanket: Step-by-Step Guide

The installation of an insulation blanket is a DIY home project that doesn’t require any special skills or tools. We also recommend insulating hot water pipes to improve their efficiency.

Working on electric units is easier compared to gas or oil-fired appliances. Take care not to obstruct the flue at the top or the burner area, as failure to do so can be costly and dangerous.

If you purchase a non-pre-cut hot water heater blanket, you will need adhesive tape and scissors to cut out areas to clear the elements, as mentioned earlier.

Before installation, clean up any dust and wash the top surface so that the tape can adhere properly.

Here are the steps for installation:

  • Measure a water heater.
  • Use the scissors or utility knife to cut the insulation blanket to the unit size, but be sure to make it a little bit longer (the length of the insulation strip should be the same length as the circumference of the heater plus 3″, for example).
  • Wrap the insulation horizontally and around the unit.
  • Always try first to see if the water heater blanket fits correctly.
  • Use duct tape to seal the seams where they meet.
  • Once wrapped and taped, find where the controls and valves are and make the cut-outs.
  • If you need access to the thermostat, cut a three-sided flap, so the top edge is still attached, so you can always tuck it back.
  • For the elements such as the drain valve or TPR valve, make the cut-outs to expose the parts.
  • Cut a cap of the insulation blanket to fit the top of the electric units, but never install it on the gas appliances.
  • Tape the remaining joints and seams.

Note: With the additional water heater insulation, do not set the thermostat over 130 F, as the wiring may overheat.

Other Effective Ways to Reduce Water Heating Costs

In addition to insulating a water heater, there are various other ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency. We covered 29 effective ways to save money, including the following:

  • Installing a rigid insulation block under the tank.
  • Insulate hot water pipes.
  • Lower the water temperature.
  • Install a timer.
  • Install a low-flow shower head.

These are just a few examples of the many strategies available to help you save money and conserve energy. Exploring these options can make a significant difference in your overall energy usage and utility bills.


Installing an insulation blanket for your water heater is a practical and effective measure that offers financial savings, increased comfort, and environmental benefits. It is a worthwhile investment that pays off in the long run while contributing to a more sustainable future for both your home and the planet.


Are Insulation Blankets Compatible With All Types of Water Heaters?

Insulation blankets are generally compatible with most types of water heaters, including gas, electric, and oil-fired units. However, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure that the specific blanket you choose is suitable for your water heater model.

Can I Install an Insulation Blanket on a New Water Heater?

Yes, you can install an insulation blanket on a new water heater. However, some newer models already come with built-in insulation that meets or exceeds energy efficiency standards. In such cases, additional insulation may not be necessary, but it’s worth checking the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure compatibility.

Are There Any Safety Concerns Associated With Insulation Blankets?

When installing insulation blankets, it’s important to follow safety guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Ensure that the blanket does not obstruct any vents, controls, or access points on the water heater. Additionally, avoid covering any safety tags or warnings that may be present on the unit.

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