Save the Earth + Save Money: This Cheap Upgrade Pays for Itself Fast

Read time: 7 mins

Many of us today are trying to be more eco friendly while living on a budget. Thankfully for us, saving money and helping to save the Earth often go hand in hand. What if I told you that for 1.5 hours of your time, you could reduce the money you lose on your utility bill and reduce your carbon footprint?

Don’t believe me that it can be that easy? Allow me to tell you about the water heater blanket.

What are the savings for a water heater blanket?

Initial Cost

$20-$40

How long to get your money back

1-2 yrs

Average Dollar Savings per Year

$32.50

Average KwH Savings per Year

270 KwH

Average CO2 Savings per Year

331 lbs*

http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-insulate-your-water-heater-tank

https://carbonfund.org/how-we-calculate/

*Carbonfund.org states we emit 1.222lbs CO2/KwH

Note: These are averages found from US sites. Canadian utility rates vary. Also the savings will vary based on the type of water heater, how old it is as well as your usage.

The second largest expense in our homes is heating water. It costs us on average $400-$600 dollars annually, about 14-18% of our overall utility bill. (EG) Installing a water heater blanket would help reduce that amount on an annual basis, with the added bonus of reducing your carbon footprint and helping to save the Earth. Your next question might be, what a water heater blanket actually does.

Why does my water heater need a blanket?

A water heater is a tank that stores heated water for usage in the house. Whenever you wash dishes, take a shower or run your washing machine you are drawing on the preheated water in the tank. Cold water replaces the warm water you just used and now needs to be heated. Even if you NEVER use hot water in your house, it takes energy to keep that water warm and on standby. In fact this type of energy waste is called standby heat loss and can account for up to 20% of your total water heating costs says LowerMyEnergybill.com.

The Stretcher.com quotes that a properly installed blanket can reduce energy loss by 25% to 45%. That’s translates directly into savings.

Is this upgrade right for you?

Before you read any further, ask yourself these few simple questions below. If you answer yes to even one of them, installing a water heater blanket is right for you!

Older Home?

  • New homes have higher insulated models. Check with your builder if this applies to you.  The savings would still be there, just lower.
  • Check manual, some newer models specifically recommend to NOT purchase blankets.

Tank R-Value < 24?

  • R value measures thermal resisitance of an object. (aka insulating effectiveness.)
  • The higher your R value, the greater the insulation.
  • Check for R Value in owner’s manual.

Tank Feels Warm?

  • If you can't find r-value, a quick test is to just touch the tank.
  • If tank feels warm or hot, chances are a water blanket will give you money back every year!

Located in Cold Room?

  • The colder the room the tank is located in; the more money you would save.  Most tanks are located in garages or basements which are not insulated.

See citation list below.

So now you know you would benefit from a water heater blanket. The next step is understanding what you need before you buy. I’ve made a simple checklist for you to follow below for things to do before purchasing.

Let’s get ready!

  • Call your utility provider. They may have preferred brand, or discounted blanket to offer you. It never hurts to ask before you go out to purchase one yourself.

  • Know your heater capacity and any other tank size before you start to shop!

  • Know what powers your tank. Whether its gas, solar or electric, know what kind of tank you have and be sure to purchase a blanket that fits your needs. Note that installing on a gas tank requires more care. Be sure to ask a professional if you have any concerns.

  • Budget 20-40 dollars. Yup. They are that inexpensive to purchase.

  • Get a razor knife and tape measure. Installation is so easy these are the only two tools you will need.

  • Shop around. They can be purchased at any home hardware store, or even Amazon! Blankets with R-11 value are recommended by the Stretcher.com Models with reflective barrier made of pure aluminum usually have a higher r-value. But they all seem to be pretty comparable.

Installation:

Now you are ready to go! I recommend following the instructions in the manual provided with the blanket. I am also attaching a great link provided by the Energy.gov website for step by step guide to installation.

How To Video:

http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-insulate-your-water-heater-tank

What’s next to help save the Earth and save money?

Once you’ve got your water heater installed, you can just sit back and enjoy the savings. Or if you are like me and constantly looking for the next easy change you can do in your home, I have a few complimentary energy efficient tasks you can do to help reduce the energy waste of your water heater, helping to save the Earth and put a little more back into your wallet. (Because who doesn’t love that?)

  • Buy low flow showerheads and faucets. 
    • If the water flows slower, you use less water in general but specifically the warm water.
    • TIP: Try showering in room temperature water.  Not only is it good for your pores, but it will also decrease the amount of heated water you use up.  (I also find it keeps me from taking too long in the shower!)
  • Fix leaky faucets
    • If you have leaky faucets, you are continually wasting water as it drips down..and we all know those drips can add up over time. The EPA website states that a leaky faucet dripping one drop per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water per year!
    • TIP: Fixing leaky faucets, showerheads and toilets is a great way to save on water waste in your home. 
  • Insulate water pipes
    • This is a compliment to the blanket, and can save you up to $12 per year.  Insulating your water pipes not only saves you money, but helps you to conserve water as it takes less time for warm water to flow.
    • TIP:  Go to the Energy.Gov link for more details on the savings and how to insulate your water pipes.
  • Use water during off peak hours
    • Using water at off peak hours saves you money as the usage rate is lower.  Wait to run your dishwasher, start a load of laundry or take a shower until after 7 pm and you will notice a difference in your next bill.
    • TIP:  Wash your cloths in cold water and you’ll see even more money back in your pocket.  If you want to take it one step farther, hang up your clothes to dry and save even more on electricity.  I make it a habit to put on a load of laundry every night at 7 in cold water, and I hang it up to dry before I go to bed.  This not only keeps me from having a mountain of laundry to catch up on on the weekends, but it allows me to save on the electricity from running my dryer.
  • Lower temperature on water heater when you are on vacation.
    • Remember, even if you NEVER use hot water in your house, it takes energy to keep that water warm and on standby. The lower you set your temperature, the less energy your heater needs to keep it warm, the less standby losses you will experience.  
    • TIP: Ask who ever is watering your plants and checking your mail to come in the day before you come home to increase your water heater temperature back to normal if you are someone who NEEDS your warm shower as soon as you get home. 

So to sum up, it costs about $20-40 dollars to purchase a blanket, they are fairly easy to install, they save you money, reduce your carbon emissions all while helping to save the Earth. That’s money back in your pocket on a yearly basis and a little more breathing room for mother earth. It’s one of those win win situations for us and for the environment…so what are you waiting for? Start shopping!

Citations:

http://www.lower-my-energybill.com/water-heater-blanket.html

http://www.stretcher.com/stories/970127c.cfm

http://www.lower-my-energybill.com/water-heater-blanket.html

http://www.home-water-heater.com/water-heater-insulation-blanket.html

http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/energy-efficiency/do-water-heater-blankets-save-energy

http://www.cchrc.org/sites/default/files/docs/waterblanket_snapshot.pdf

http://www.yousustain.com/solutions/Water_heater_blanket

http://energy.gov/articles/new-infographic-and-projects-keep-your-energy-bills-out-hot-water

http://www.torontohydro.com/sites/electricsystem/residential/yourbilloverview/Pages/ApplianceChart.aspx

https://carbonfund.org/how-we-calculate/

https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/fixleak.html

http://energy.gov/energysaver/projects/savings-project-insulate-hot-water-pipes-energy-savings

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