Older water heaters lose more heat because they have insufficient insulation. While your heater is working overtime getting up to temperature, thanks to poor quality insulation, it is working so inefficiently that it increases your energy expenditure.
So, what’s the answer? It’s time to invest in a water heater blanket. The best water heater blankets can reduce the amount of energy your heater uses and reduce your overspend on energy costs.
The 7 Best Water Heater Blankets
Let’s look at the 7 best water heater blankets money can buy and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.
#1. Smart Jacket: Water Heater Blanket Insulation, “NON-FIBERGLASS”
- Save Money, Energy and Help the Environment!!! SAVE 2x MORE WITH OUR PRODUCT!!! 5MM THICKNESS!!!
This is a non-fiberglass water heater blanket. It contains no carcinogenic or toxic materials and reduces your water heating bills by a maximum of 9 percent. This blanket reduces heat loss by 40 percent, so there are savings to be made.
It is easy to install and fits all 30 to 60-gallon tanks. You also get an R-rating of 7.1. R-ratings are the industry standard measurement for heat loss and insulation. The higher the R-value, the more efficient the product.
The manufacturer claims you will recoup your initial purchase costs in energy savings within the first couple of months. Whether that is true or not remains to be seen.
The biggest complaint with this water heater blanket is that it is tricky to install, with some people recommending it is a 2-person job.
#2. Frost King SP57/11C All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket
- Vinyl backed fiberglass insulation blankets are designed for gas, oil or electric water heaters up to 60 gallon size
This model comes with vinyl tape to make installation easier. It certainly removes one of the main complaints that people made about the Smart Jacket, which was untidy seams.
These heater blankets are made from fiberglass, which has excellent insulation qualities but is not kind to the environment. The blanket fits 60-gallon tanks, as well as gas, oil, and electric water heaters.
The other significant difference in this blanket compared to the Smart Jacket is the R-value. This one boasts an impressive R-rating of 11, so it is more efficient and should reduce your energy costs even further.
It also scores well on price. This one is almost half the price of the Smart Jacket, but that may also reflect the environmentally damaging fiberglass construction materials, compared to eco-friendly options.
#3. Reflectix ST16025 Staple Tab Insulation Roll
- The staple tab edge is manufactured by perforating the bubbles 3/4" Down each edge of the product
This reflectix insulation roll uses reflective technology to improve heat retention. It is fiber-free, completely safe for the environment, and lightweight, making it a breeze to install.
This product is more of a general insulation material, so while it can be adapted to cover your water heater, it also fits inside attics and crawl spaces. Additionally, you can use this insulation in the construction process for floors, walls, and ceilings.
It benefits from an air bubble inner layer to repel heat, keeping your water heater working efficiently. This product is also affordable. It costs half the price of the Smart Jacket.
The only negative thing is that this insulation is more challenging to install around your water heater because it has to be adapted to fit. That said, with a little bit of skill, it can make an affordable alternative to a fiberglass water heater.
#4. US Energy Products Water Heater Blanket Insulation,”Non-Fiberglass”
- Reduce 9% Heating Cost Bills, Reduce Heat Loss Up to 40%
This US Energy Products heater blanket is very similar to the previous model. It has a foil outer skin and a double bubble insulating layer in the middle to trap in heat.
It reduces your heating bills by up to 9 percent, which equates to a 40 percent energy saving. The company claims this product will improve the efficiency of 95 percent of boilers.
It fits all 20 to 80-gallon water tanks, and you get an R-value of 8, so it outperforms the Smart Jacket but falls short against the Frost King.
This insulation sheet is weatherproof, making it an ideal choice for use in construction for floors, walls, attics, and crawl spaces.
#5. SmartSHIELD Reflective Insulation roll, Foam Core Radiant Barrier, Thermal Insulation Shield
- EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE - reflect 97% of radiant energy, perfect RADIANT BARRIER.
This is another foil insulation, but instead of bubbles at the core, this one has foam between the two reflective foil sheets.
It reflects 97 percent of radiant heat, which improves the efficiency of your water heater, and because it has a vapor barrier, it is unaffected by humidity and moisture, meaning you can use it indoors and out.
The foam is 3mm thick and made from polyethylene, which SmartSHIELD claims is more efficient than a layer of bubbles. This is certainly reflected in the R-values.
For 3mm insulation, the R-rating is 20.42; for 5mm, you get an R-value of 21.10, and when you step it up to 10mm, that R-value leaps to 31.01.
This insulation is also class 1 rated for fire safety, and it has no toxic or skin-irritating ingredients. The only downside is this product costs over double that of others on the list.
#6. Thermwell Products SP57-5 Water Heater Blanket
Now we are back with fiberglass jackets. This one fits all water heaters up to 60 gallons, and it even comes with vinyl tape, so you get a neat seam and a snug fit. It measures 1.5 inches x 45 inches x 75 inches.
This insulation is designed for gas, oil, and electric water heaters, so it is versatile, and while fiberglass is a skin irritant, it is vinyl-backed to avoid you making skin contact. However, we do have to face the fact that fiberglass is not environmentally friendly.
Also, this product is expensive, costing 3 to 4 times the price of other similar products in the review.
#7. JR Global Sales- HOT WATER TANK HEATER INSULATION JACKET DIY ‘PREMIUM’ KIT: ENERGY SAVING REFLECTIVE FOIL
- Patented Reflective Foil Stops 97% of Radiant Heat Loss and helps maintain standby water temperature.Original Manufacturer of this Kit for 27 years.Average Consumer Payback is 6-12 months. Improves the Energy Efficiency of your home.
If you have a smaller water heater, you might be better off choosing this JR Global Sales water heater jacket. It only fits heaters up to 40 gallons. However, you can get them in larger sizes at additional cost.
The stats are impressive: It stops 97 percent of heat loss escaping through the tank walls, saves up to 14 percent in energy consumption, and pays for itself within 6 months.
This is another insulation roll with a bubble-center and a foil outer skin, so it can be used anywhere around the home. Additionally, you can buy larger kits that fit 60-gallon water tanks.
It’s class 1 fire rated, and it gives off zero toxins when heated. However, the company states that reflective insulation is not measured in R-values, so we don’t know how it compares to fiberglass products.
What Is a Water Heater Blanket?
A water heater blanket is an insulation layer that fits around the exterior of your water heater and stops heat loss, which then improves energy efficiency and reduces your costs.
It also helps to maintain a constant temperature, which again saves energy and money. Additionally, it keeps the water inside the tank hotter for longer. If you think of it as a winter coat, you can see why they are so effective.
When you put on your coat, it keeps the heat in and wards off the chilly weather. Your hat and gloves do the same. A water heater blanket is just a winter coat for your water tank.
Do Water Heater Blankets Actually Work?
Water heater blankets have been proven to reduce heat loss and improve efficiency by up to 14 percent. What’s more, they enhance the efficiency of your water heater 95 percent of the time.
If you have an older water heater, you might find that the insulation fails to live up to the same standards as newer models. A water heater blanket wraps your heater in a protective layer that seals in the heat to stop energy wastage.
In addition, if you live in a colder climate, a water heater blanket is an ideal way to get your water heater working at maximum efficiency, which means the water stays hotter for longer, reducing the need to switch on the energy.
Some advanced blankets reduce your overall energy usage by as much as 40 percent. As a long-term solution, they are worth the investment, and within 6 months, you should recoup your purchase costs in efficiency savings.
The best water heater blankets are just like Thermos flasks. They create a barrier between the heat inside and the cold air outside the tank.
Do You Need a Water Heater Blanket?
If you care about saving money, energy, and ultimately, the planet, yes, you should get a water heater blanket. But the question was “Do I Need a Water Heater Blanket,” and the truth is no, you do not need a heater blanket.
However, old heaters are inefficient compared to newer models, so while the most up-to-date water heaters have all the insulating qualities to keep your system working correctly, you may need to invest in additional measures to improve their performance.
Pros and Cons of Water Heater Blankets
As with all things, there are upsides and downsides. What you gain with one hand, you lose with the other. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages?
When you make your water heater perform better, you use less energy because the heater can function without needing as much runtime. For example, some blankets claim to make 95 percent of all water heaters more efficient.
Attaining a 14 percent saving on energy usage is a real bonus of owning a water heater blanket. Imagine that 14 percent is the equivalent of 14 cents for every dollar spent on heating your water.
Plus, the longer you can keep your current water heater working at optimum performance, the longer you go between replacements when the inevitable happens.
Better for The Environment
Reducing your energy burden minimizes the burden on the planet. Most electricity, oil, and gas production is a dirty industry, using methods that produce pollution. So, the lower your energy consumption, the lower the impact on the ecosystem.
If you compare the initial costs of a water heater blanket against the reduction in energy usage, the benefits far outweigh the negatives.
And when you see that you could reduce your standby heat loss (when the heater stores the hot water for usage) by almost 40 percent, that’s putting less strain on your heating elements and the entire system.
What could be more convenient than a well-run water heater, working at maximum performance for the longest possible time? If the water heater uses less energy to warm the contents of the tank, it costs less, and retains heat better.
Plus, because the water heats more quickly, you get longer periods before running out. And speaking of convenience, nothing will annoy you more than running out of hot water in the middle of a shower.
So, now we’ve looked at the advantages of owning a water heater blanket, what are the downsides?
While water heater blankets are not the most expensive items you can buy, they are an extra cost you need to factor in. You should expect to pay somewhere between $25 to $100, depending on the type of materials used and added features like weatherproofing.
Bad for The Environment
Generally, water heater blankets are not made from eco-friendly materials. Fiberglass is the most commonly used, and because it contains formaldehyde, if it leaches into the environment, it can have damaging effects.
Discarding fiberglass is tricky because it doesn’t biodegrade in the same way other natural products do, which can have adverse effects on the planet.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing the Best Water Heater Blankets
So, the time has come to choose a new water heater blanket, but what are the main points you should be looking for?
Fiberglass is the most readily available type of insulation in water heater jackets. It is cheap to produce, has excellent insulating qualities, and lasts for a very long time.
The disadvantage of fiberglass is that it is extremely hazardous if particles enter the atmosphere or make contact with your skin. It can cause rashes and irritations, and if you breathe it in, it has the same effect on your throat.
Fiberglass strands can also infect your eyes, causing them to swell and itch. In addition, while there is no fixed proof, it is widely believed that fiberglass contains carcinogens that have been linked to cancer.
Foil has a reflective quality that deflects heat, so when your water heater warms up, as the heat tries to escape, your foil blanket keeps it in check. Most foil insulation consists of two aluminum foil layers and an inner core of bubbles.
The great thing about foil is you can use it anywhere inside the house. It insulates attics and crawl spaces, as well as floors, walls, and ceilings. The other advantage of foil is that it doesn’t irritate your skin, and is better for the environment.
Cotton insulation is constructed from 85 percent post-industrial cotton textiles and 15 percent plastic fibers. Originally, it was produced using virgin cotton, but it was more cost-effective to use off-cuts of denim from the jeans industry.
While cotton is not fire-retardant, it is soaked in a special solution to make it fire-safe. Cotton insulation is used in several ways within the construction industry, including walls, floors, and water heater tanks.
Foil-faced foam is very similar to foil insulation in that it uses reflective insulation to trap heat inside the water heater, just like a Thermos flask keeps your soup warm in the winter.
It consists of two layers of aluminum foil with a thick layer of polyethylene foam in the middle. And just like foil insulation, you can use this material all over the house. It insulates walls, floors, crawl spaces, and attics.
Getting the right size water tank blanket is easy. When we talk about size, it refers to the capacity of your water tank.
Most blankets are sized to fit water tanks between 30 and 60 gallons, but you can get smaller and larger. If you read the label on your blanket, it will state the correct capacity range.
The thickness of the insulation directly affects the way the blanket performs. Therefore, you should expect the fiberglass models to have thicker padding and to weigh more than the foil-based products.
However, if you have a water tank in a tight spot, it might not be possible to wrap a thick layer of insulation because you may not have the correct wall clearance. If that’s the case, you would be better off with foil insulation.
We’ve said the thicker the insulation, the better the efficiency of the blanket, but this is not the case when it comes to foil material. Thanks to the reflective qualities of the aluminum foil, it does the same job but without all that extra padding.
It means that you can use it in tight spots where there is minimal clearance between the wall and the water heater.
When it comes to measuring heat loss, the industry standard is R-value. The higher the R-rate, the more efficient the insulation.
R-values can range from 7 or 8 to 20 and 30, but the higher R numbers would be directly related to the thickness of the insulation.
Wherever there is an element of heat, there is always the threat of fire. Luckily, fiberglass is extremely fire-retardant, thanks to the high glass content in the mixture. Glass doesn’t contain hydrocarbons or vapors that oxidize to create heat and light.
For this reason, it is an excellent material for insulating your house. When using foil-based insulation, check the fire safety rating. Many are class 1, which is the highest rating you can get, so while they might not have the same retardance as fiberglass, they do resist fire.
How to Install a Water Heater Blanket
1. Grab The Tape Measure
Measure the distance between the pipes and any other obstacle you need to cut around. Then, using a pair of scissors or a sharp knife, cut out the holes so that they fit snugly around the pipes. Remember that the more accurate the cut, the better the heat retention.
Make sure the water heater is switched off while you perform this task. Let the water heater cool to make it safer and easier to fit.
2. Keep The Vents Clear
For electric heaters, simply wrap the insulation around the exterior body of the heater. For gas-fired heaters, you need to ensure the flue at the top, and the drain at the bottom are completely clear of insulation.
Avoid covering these areas because it interrupts the airflow, which could cause a build-up of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is deadly because it is silent and odorless.
You also need to keep the thermostat free to check the temperature and avoid covering the top of the heater just in case you block any vents.Now finish the seam with vinyl tape to secure the blanket with a neat edge.
3. Lag The Pipes
You will also need to lag the pipes because just as much heat disappears through this avenue as it does through the water tank. You can buy specialist pipe insulation tubes or just use the existing excess insulation you bought for the tank.
Use the same vinyl tape to seal the seams and to get a neat finish.
The Heat Is On
If you have a brand new water heater, you might think an insulating blanket is a waste of money. But for those with older models, keeping your water heater running efficiently is crucial to its performance.
It keeps the heater working for longer, reduces the burden on the working parts, keeps the water hotter in the off spells, and speeds the water-heating process. It’s all about efficiency and energy savings.
If you can improve these elements, you not only save money, but you help to save the planet in a small way.