A water Heater in a basement with water heater insulation attached to the pipes on top

Your water heater continually sucks up too much energy, but it’s not like you can go without hot water. 

After some preliminary research into your options, you’ve discovered that you could insulate your water heater, both the tank itself and the pipes. 

But, will it make a difference if you go through the time and expense to do this? 

If you want more information on water heater insulation, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will further expound on your savings potential, discuss your insulation options, and discuss how much the process will cost. 

Let’s get started!

Does Water Heater Insulation Work?

Water heater insulation is effective since it reduces heat loss by 25-45%. This reduction reflects positively on your energy bills, which could drop by 7-16%. In addition, insulating your water heater is inexpensive and easy to do too!

What Energy Savings Can You Expect with Water Heater Insulation?

Water heaters are a must. You rely on them every day when you use hot water to boil water or wash your hands and when you want to take a hot shower or bath. 

However, your water heater is also imperfect. According to Ohio State University’s Green Home Technology Center, an electric water heater loses up to 1.4 kilowatt-hours of heat from storage tank standby losses.

No wonder the website also found that water heaters contribute up to 18% of utility bills annually.

Insulating your water heater, the tank, and the piping is the answer. 

A homeowner makes adjustments to the foam insulation attached to the pipes atop his water heater tank

Water heater insulation will reduce heat loss, allowing your heater to have more warm water on standby. The unit will work less to produce hot water.

Energy Saver, a US Department of Energy resource, notes that the heat losses from your water tank can decrease by as little as 25% and by as much as 45% through insulation.

The water in the tank also stays warmer longer, just like when you insulate coffee inside a thermos. 

Of course, we know you’re interested in how much you can save on your monthly utility bills if you decide on water heater insulation. According to Energy Saver, the answer is between 7-16%.

As we’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog, Move.org, a moving resource, states that the average cost for utilities in the US per month is $118.

If you reduce your bill by seven percent, you will shave off $8.26 monthly. If the savings are up to 16%, you will trim $18.88 a month off your bill. At $118 a month, your annual utility costs would be $1,416. 

With a seven percent reduction in your utility bill spending over the year, you could deduct $99.12 for a grand total of $1,316.88.

A year of utility bill savings at a rate of 16% is $226.56 off your annual bill, which adds up to $1,189.44 yearly.

How to Insulate Your Water Heater Tank

As we’ve made clear, you can insulate both the water heater tank and the water heater pipes. So we’ll begin by talking about how to protect the tank itself.

The solution is straightforward—all you need to do is buy a water heater insulation blanket.

These blankets come in various sizes to accommodate different makes and models. You’ll have to find your unit’s specs specifically before purchasing a water heater insulation blanket. Otherwise, it might not fit.

A water heater insulation blanket applied to a water heater in the basement of a home.
Courtesy of HouseLogic

That information is usually available on the tank. You should see a label indicating the amount of water in gallons it can hold. That’s all you need to know to buy a water heater blanket. These blankets are available at home improvement stores as well as online. 

Just as you don’t want a blanket that’s too tight, as it won’t even fit on the tank, you don’t want an overly loose one, either. A loose water heater blanket lets too much air in, rendering the blanket ineffective.

When the time comes to apply the water heater insulation blanket, here’s what you do:

  • Turn off your water heater power supply – water heater tanks can be scalding when the unit is on, and you don’t want to get burned!
  • If yours is a gas water heater, switch the gas valve to the pilot setting for now.
  • Allow a few minutes for the tank to cool.
  • Once the tank has cooled, place the blanket over it
  • If the blanket covers any panels or valves, outline the area with a permanent marker, and then cut away the fabric using fabric scissors.
  • Hold the blanket together using electrical tape.
  • Turn the water heater back on

How Much Does Water Heater Insulation Cost?

The best part about insulating your water heater tank and pipes is that besides being easy enough to do on your own, it’s also inexpensive.

A water heater insulation jacket costs $20-$40. If yours is an oversized heater or a specialty model, you may pay more, but this expense is fairly low-cost.

Fiberglass insulation is priced by square foot and costs between $0.30-$1.50/square foot. However, you only need three feet of insulation for each pipe, so the costs will be low.

Foam pipe sleeves are also incredibly cost-effective. You’d pay less than $5 for all the insulation you’d need.

Considering you can insulate both your water heater tank and the pipes in an afternoon and that you’ll reap a lot of savings without having to spend a ton of money, there’s no reason to skip this project! 

Where to Buy Water Heater Insulation Blankets

Home Depot and Lowes have some great options, some in stock. The links in the previous sentence are affiliate links and help support the blog and more content, if you’d like to use them.

Amazon also has some great options for picking up a water heater insulation blanket. To view the three bestselling blankets currently selling, you can check these out:

Bestseller No. 1
Water Heater Blanket Insulation, 'NON FIBERGLASS', Fits up to 80 Gallons, Energy Star Certified, Satisfaction Guaranteed
1,040 Reviews
Water Heater Blanket Insulation, "NON FIBERGLASS", Fits up to 80 Gallons, Energy Star Certified, Satisfaction Guaranteed
  • Save Money, Energy and Help the Environment!!! SAVE 2x MORE WITH OUR PRODUCT!!! 5MM THICKNESS!!!
  • R-VALUE 7.1!!! Reduce Heat Loss by 40% !!! Recover Your Investment in a few month!!!
  • Fits All 20 to 80 Gallon Tanks / Fits Gas or Electric Water Heater
  • Easy to Install and Easy to Clean , Contains no Fiberglass, Non toxic / Non carcinogenic
SaleBestseller No. 2
Frost King SP57/11C All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket, 3” Thick x 48” x 75”, R10
1,829 Reviews
Frost King SP57/11C All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket, 3” Thick x 48” x 75”, R10
  • Vinyl backed fiberglass insulation blankets are designed for gas, oil or electric water heaters up to 60 gallon size
  • Improves Heater efficiency
  • 3” Thick x 48” x 75”, R10
  • Package contains a roll of plastic tape
Bestseller No. 3
Nasa Tech Heavy Duty Reflective Foam Core Non Fiberglass (Fits 40, 50, and 60) Gallon Water Heater Tank Insulation Wrap …
459 Reviews

How to Insulate Your Water Heater Pipes

While insulating your hot water heater tank is a good first step, you should also protect the pipes to reap the full extent of utility bill savings.

You have several options for doing this. First, you might opt for fiberglass insulation, which will be durable and warming but expensive.

End view of a roll of fiberglass water heater pipe insulation.
Courtesy of ExpressInsulation.com

Your other option is to buy pipe sleeves, which look like swimming pool noodles. Most pipe sleeves are made of foam. 

You’ll also need scissors, gloves, duct tape or acrylic tape (cable ties work in a pinch), and a tape measure.

Here are the steps to insulate the hot water heater pipes:

Step 1: Measure How Much Insulation You Need

Closeup on a technician's hands holding foam pipe insulation

Before you can begin, you need to plan how much water heater insulation material the project will require. Then, you’ll have to measure the length of the cold water inlet and hot water inlet pipes.

Remember that you don’t have to insulate the entirety of these pipes, only three feet.

Step 2: Buy Your Materials

Your local hardware stores might be the easiest or fastest way to pick up an insulation blanket, unless you want to have it shipped.

Here are some more quick links to check out the pipe insulation available:

At Home Depot
At Lowes

And here at Amazon:

Bestseller No. 1
Pipe Insulation Foam Tube - 1' Foam Tubing for AC Unit, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle and Roof Rack, 1'(25mm) ID 1-13/32'(43mm) OD - 6Ft
127 Reviews
Pipe Insulation Foam Tube - 1" Foam Tubing for AC Unit, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle and Roof Rack, 1"(25mm) ID 1-13/32"(43mm) OD - 6Ft
  • Foam Tubing: 1 Inch(25mm)inner dia, 1-13/32 Inch(43mm) outer dia, 23/64 Inch (9mm) Tube Thickness, 6Ft(1.8m) total length
  • Wide Application: Pipe insulation foam tube is can be used for AC Units, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle Roof Rack, etc.
  • Premium Material: The tubing is made of EPDM material, fire-resistant, flame-retardant, high-temperature resistant, closed-cell structure, the insulating material does not melt in case of fire, and is not easy to burn; the operating temperature range is -50 to 110 °C
  • Perfect Heat Preservation Insulation: The raw material adopts a high-density airtight structure, low thermal conductivity, stable temperature, and has the function of thermal insulation
  • Quality Commitment: We stand behind the quality of our products. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, please contact us. We provide a 60-day money-back and 12-month warranty. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for risk-free shopping!
SaleBestseller No. 2
Pipe Insulation Foam Tube - 3/4' Foam Tubing for AC Unit, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle and Roof Rack(3/4' ID*3/8' TH-6Ft)
101 Reviews
Pipe Insulation Foam Tube - 3/4" Foam Tubing for AC Unit, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle and Roof Rack(3/4" ID*3/8" TH-6Ft)
  • Foam Tubing: 3/4 Inch(19mm)inner dia, 1-29/64 Inch(37mm) outer dia, 3/8 Inch (9mm) Tube Thickness, 6Ft(1.8m) total length
  • Wide Application: Pipe insulation foam tube is can be used for AC Units, Guitar Stands, Exercise Machine Handle Roof Rack, etc.
  • Premium Material: The tubing is made of EPDM material, fire-resistant, flame-retardant, high-temperature resistant, closed-cell structure, the insulating material does not melt in case of fire, and is not easy to burn; the operating temperature range is -50 to 110 °C
  • Perfect Heat Preservation Insulation: The raw material adopts a high-density airtight structure, low thermal conductivity, stable temperature, and has the function of thermal insulation
  • Quality Commitment: We stand behind the quality of our products. If for any reason you are not satisfied with your purchase, please contact us. We provide a 60-day money-back and 12-month warranty. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee for risk-free shopping!
SaleBestseller No. 3
Pangda 4 Pcs 6 ft Pipe Insulation Foam Tube Heat Preservation Insulated Foam Anti Slip Tubing Cover Wrap for Water and Air Conditioning Copper(Gray, 0.63 x 0.59 x 70.8 Inch)
12 Reviews
Pangda 4 Pcs 6 ft Pipe Insulation Foam Tube Heat Preservation Insulated Foam Anti Slip Tubing Cover Wrap for Water and Air Conditioning Copper(Gray, 0.63 x 0.59 x 70.8 Inch)
  • Optimal Size and Quantity: the pack of 4 gray tube covers each measures about 0.63" x 0.59" x 70.8'', providing sufficient quantity and size for your usage needs
  • Easy and Efficient Installation: no extra layers or tools are needed to install these insulating pipe covers; Just cut them to the required size and stick them onto the pipes; They are designed for easy and rapid application, significantly saving labor
  • Waterproof and Moisture Resistant: the sealed air chamber design ensures no water absorption, making the pipe wrap insulation waterproof and moisture resistant; This increases their lifespan, making them a durable investment for your insulation needs
  • Ideal Insulation Properties: the good insulation performance of these insulated pipe wraps is due to their closed cell foam structure with each air chamber well sealed; They exhibit low thermal conductivity, thus ensuring good thermal insulation, making them ideal for the fluctuating temperature conditions
  • Multi Purpose Usefulness: these versatile water pipe insulation foam tubes can protect various handles such as fitness equipment, kitchen utensils, and other pipes that need heat insulation; They enhance the softness of handles while providing anti slip, wear resistant, and heat protective properties
SaleBestseller No. 4
Insulating Foam Pipe Covers Pipe Insulation Freeze Protection Heat Preservation Foam Tube for Tubing Outdoor Water Pipe Insulation Water Pipe Freeze Protection (12 Pcs,Brown,1.5 Inch)
52 Reviews
Insulating Foam Pipe Covers Pipe Insulation Freeze Protection Heat Preservation Foam Tube for Tubing Outdoor Water Pipe Insulation Water Pipe Freeze Protection (12 Pcs,Brown,1.5 Inch)
  • Rich in Quantity to Use: the package comes with 12 pieces of brown foam tubes, each insulation foam measures about 1 m/ 3.28 ft in length, about 58 mm/ 2.28 inches in outer diameter, about 38 mm/ 1.5 inches in inner diameter, about 10 mm/ 0.39 inches in thickness, suitable for 1.5 inches copper pipes, and the quantity is enough for your daily use and replacement
  • Reliable and Serviceable: the insulation foam is made of quality PEP foam, which is soft and reliable, not easy to tear or wear, anti collision protection and reusable, serving you for a long time
  • Safe and Trustworthy: the pipe wrap has good fireproof, heat insulating and sound absorbing properties, good elasticity, easy bending and safe use, which will bring you an ideal experience
  • Convenient Installation: the pipe insulation wrap adopts pre slit design, so the assembly is simple; Only by directly clamping the insulation foam on the pipe, the insulation foam can be firmly fixed and not easily ruined
  • Wide Application: the foam pipe insulation is waterproof, dustproof, oil resistant and corrosion resistant, an ideal choice for various outdoor pipe insulation, avoiding your pipe freezing in winter and providing long term protection; In addition, it can also be applied for outdoor winter irrigation, sprinkler and faucet isolation
SaleBestseller No. 5
Preboun 2 Rolls Pipe Insulation Wrap Outdoor Foam and Foil Pipe Wrap Insulation Tape Duct Insulation Wrap Blanket Natural Cotton Duct Wrap Wall Cotton Insulation for Wall Pipe(3'' x 15' x 0.4'')
2 Reviews
Preboun 2 Rolls Pipe Insulation Wrap Outdoor Foam and Foil Pipe Wrap Insulation Tape Duct Insulation Wrap Blanket Natural Cotton Duct Wrap Wall Cotton Insulation for Wall Pipe(3'' x 15' x 0.4'')
  • Sufficient Quantity and Suitable Size: with 2 rolls of cotton duct wraps included in each package, you'll have plenty of material for all your ductwork needs; The duct insulation wrap measures approximately 3 inch x 15 feet x 0.4 inch/ 7.5 x 450 x 1 cm, which can meet your daily life needs and requirements
  • Multipurpose and Diverse Application: the garage insulation offers endless insulation applications; It's suitable for ducts, pipes and air conditioning units, but also ideal as car soundproofing or for use in walls and attics; Whether you need to isolate, buffer or reduce heating and air conditioning pipe vibration, our cotton duct wrap is the ideal choice for any of your insulation needs
  • Easy DIY installation: the duct insulation roll is easy to install, making it suitable for DIY projects; Simply wrap the duct, secure with tape, and you're done; Without any special tools or equipment, allowing you to cut and tear in proper size according to your interests and needs
  • Made with Quality Materials: the duct wrap is made of cotton and foil, the cotton duct wrap is an insulation product that ensures durability and longevity; It's made to last, providing exceptional insulation and protection from heat and noise
  • Reusable Usage: not only is the reflective insulation roll a versatile and durable insulation choice, but it's also reusable; You can easily remove and reattach it as needed, making it an ideal solution for most of your future insulation needs

Step 3: Place the Insulation on the Pipes

Closeup on a technician's hands wrapping a pipe with insulation

If you’re working with fiberglass, we highly recommend wearing gloves, long sleeves, and pants. Fiberglass is very abrasive if it makes direct contact with your skin!

Of course, you can skip the gloves if you’re using a traditional foam pipe sleeve. Well, unless you feel more comfortable wearing them.

You can easily cut the foam down to size, but that’s not so much the case with fiberglass. You’ll have to measure out a three-foot piece precisely.

Step 4: Secure the Pipe Insulation

Using cable wires or tape, secure the insulation every two feet, so it doesn’t shift or fall off.

That’s it!

Conclusion 

Water heater insulation on the tank and piping can retain hot water for longer and reduce heat losses, making the water heater work much harder. The utility bill savings you can enjoy are between 7-16%, which is not too shabby at all!

We hope the information in this guide inspires you to insulate the water heater tank and the pipes. A little effort will go a long way as you enjoy hundreds of dollars saved year after year.

Attainable Home, LLC participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, where some of the links in our articles earn us a small commission. Feel free to use them or not, the pricing does not change either way, but it does help support the team here.

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