Today's post has been brought to you by water heater installation experts, Aramendia Plumbing Heating & Air in HoustonConsumers looking to cut their monthly utility bills and save some energy are often advised to insulate their water heater with a blanket. In some instances, this is not a necessary or useful purchase. An improperly installed water heater blanket can violate local building codes by covering operating instructions, controls, and possibly blocking combustion and draft passages. However, for a nominal investment, a properly installed water heater blanket can reduce energy loss by 25-45% which will quickly pay for itself.
The simplest test to know if a water heater tank is losing heat is to touch the surface of the tank. If it is warm, the tank is losing heat. Many tanks are in cooler places in the home, such as a basement or garage and that lost heat can add up to many dollars over the course of a year. The temperature difference between the cooler area that is exposed to the elements and the temperature of the hot water can be significant.
Many newer water heaters are adequately insulated already and require no further insulation. Tanks with R-values of 16 or higher are already efficient. Less expensive water heaters may have an R-value of as low as 6. The R-value may be on the tank sticker or can be found with an internet search engine. ASHRAE's (The American Society of Heating and Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) standards for performance, efficiency and stand-by loss require at least an inch of foam insulation.
Check with your local energy company about possible incentives or discounted water heater blankets.
Beyond insulating the tank, a lot of stand-by heat is lost during the journey through the pipes. The further the outlet is from the tank, the greater the heat loss. If the water has to travel a long distance through the pipes to reach the outlet, it may be worth insulating the pipes.
Maintenance is another important factor in efficient water heater usage. When hard water is heated, the minerals such as calcium and lime dissolve and then settle into the bottom of the water tank, building up and burning out the elements or overheating the bottom of the tank. If you have unusually hard water, or utilize low-flow faucets and shower heads (which slows the flushing of the tank), regularly draining and flushing the tank for maintenance will keep it running efficiently.