Traditional tank-style water heaters typically store between 40 and 60 gallons of water, heating and reheating them as they cool. This isn’t a highly efficient way to supply a home with hot water, so If you’ve got one of these units—and aren’t up for switching over to a tankless system—increasing its efficiency can save you money.
One of the simplest methods is with the best water heater blanket. A water heater blanket (also known as a jacket or shield) insulates the tank, holding heat longer and keeping the machine from running as often.
Outfit your tank with a blanket and you’re bound to see lower energy bills while lessening your home’s energy consumption. Ahead, learn how to shop wisely and why the following models are among the best water heater blankets you can buy.
- BEST OVERALL: Frost King All Season Water Heater Insulation Blanket
- RUNNER-UP: SmartJacket Water Heater Blanket Insulation
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: US Energy Products Water Heater Blanket Insulation
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: REFLECTIVE FOIL HOT WATER TANK HEATER INSULATION
- BEST FOR SMALL TANKS: REFLECTIVE FOIL HOT WATER TANK HEATER 40 Gallons
- BEST MULTIPURPOSE: US Energy Products (AD3) Reflective Foam Insulation
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Water Heater Blanket
Before shopping for the best water heater blanket, read this section to understand the factors and features to keep in mind. This will help you make an informed decision.
When perusing hot water heater blankets, you’ll notice that there are a few different types available. This mostly comes down to the type of insulating material. Some are easier to work with during installation than others, as they often need to be trimmed to fit individual water heaters.
- Fiberglass insulation traps heat with a barrier made from pockets of air. Empty space, such as an air pocket, does not conduct heat, so fiberglass insulation is very effective. However, fiberglass insulation is messy, itchy, and no fun to work with. Wear long sleeves, pants, a mask, gloves, and glasses when installing this insulation.
- Foil insulation works by reflecting escaping heat back into the water heater. It also creates a thermal barrier with small air bubbles sandwiched between the foil layers. This type of insulation is thinner and much easier to install but doesn’t do quite as good a job of insulating as fiberglass.
- Cotton and denim insulation, typically made from recycled clothing such as jeans, is fairly uncommon. Though it works similarly to fiberglass insulation and is reasonably effective, it doesn’t do the job quite as well as fiberglass or foil, yet is more expensive due to the production process. Plus, cotton and denim are not fire-resistant.
- Foil-faced foam insulation works similarly in theory to foil and fiberglass, using the reflective surface to reflect heat back to the tank. The foam also creates small air pockets. These insulators are usually easy to install and fire-resistant.
You may also find combinations of materials, such as fiberglass insulation with a foil face. This can offer the best of both worlds, using a thick, insulating layer of air pockets and radiating heat back into the tank.
Water heaters, like most appliances, come in different sizes. The larger the house and family and the number of sinks and showers all affect how large a water heater a home needs. While water heaters range between 30 and 98 gallons, 40, 50, and 60-gallon tanks are most common in homes.
Water heater blankets also come in similar sizes, so it’s important to find one that will work for your tank. If you have a 50-gallon tank, finding a water heater blanket to fit it should be no problem. Water heater blankets to fit 98-gallon tanks, typically used in commercial settings, may be harder to track down.
When it comes to materials like fiberglass, cotton, and denim, the thicker the water heater blanket, the better it will be at insulating. A water heater located in a cool basement calls for a thicker blanket. It will do a better job of separating the cool air and the heat radiating from the tank than a thinner one.
Because foil works primarily by reflecting the heat instead of relying on an air-pocket barrier, it needn’t be thick to function efficiently. Most foil insulating water heater blankets are less than 35 millimeters thick. This is another reason foil water heater blankets are so easy to work with.
Just like your home’s insulation, water heater blankets come in a variety of insulation ratings. These ratings are described as R-value, where the R stands for resistance. The higher the R-value, the more resistance the insulation has against heat transfer. Essentially, more is better.
The highest R-value you’re likely to find for a residential water heater blanket is R-11, but values of R-7 and R-8 are more common. It’s best to find the highest R-value blanket that fits your budget and your tank.
Do keep in mind that foil-type insulation rarely offers an R-value. R-values apply to fiberglass and other similar types of insulation.
Water heaters have burner assemblies that get very hot. The point of insulating a water heater is to save energy and money, not cause a fire. Different water heater blanket materials have varying degrees of fire resistance to combat that risk. While the most common designation is Class 1/Class A, it’s helpful to know which types are the most fire-resistant.
- Fiberglass and foil-type insulation are nonflammable.
- Cotton and denim are flammable and not likely to have a fire-resistance rating.
If fire resistance is of utmost importance, a fiberglass or foil water heater blanket is the way to go. Some fiberglass or foil products aren’t fire-rated, but that doesn’t mean they’re unsafe. Just be sure to keep the insulation clear of the burner by a few inches.
There are two types of water heaters: electric and gas. Electric water heaters have a heating element inside that energizes and heats the water that surrounds it. Gas water heaters have burners underneath that kick on to heat water through convection.
Fortunately, water heater blankets are interchangeable between the two water heater types. However, if you have a gas-powered heater, it’s crucial that the blanket doesn’t cover or otherwise obstruct the flue (aka exhaust) at the top.
If you have an electric model, the blanket must not cover or obstruct its control box or access panel, typically located on the side of the tank. Also, be sure to cut the insulation back from the burner by at least 2 inches while installing.
Our Top Picks
Armed with essential info on the best water heater blankets, choosing one should be fairly easy—especially once you read up on the top products described below. Be sure to keep the above considerations in mind when comparing water heater blankets to make an informed decision.
When it comes to insulating a water heater as much as possible, Frost King’s SP60 All Season Water Heater Insulation blanket is tough to beat. This fiberglass insulation is 3 inches thick, offering an insulation value of R-10. The blanket also has a foil face to reflect as much heat back into the tank as possible.
This fiberglass insulation blanket fits most water heaters up to 60 gallons with its 60-inch by 90-inch size. It also comes with foil tape for installing securely without any gaps for heat or cold air to penetrate. And, because it’s fiberglass and foil, it’s non-flammable.
Anyone hoping to install a water heater blanket that won’t be itchy and uncomfortable to work with may wish to check out the Water Heater Blanket Insulation from SmartJacket. This foil-type insulation kit features a 5-millimeter-thick blanket, providing an R-Value of 7.1.
It comes as a roll with plenty of material, enabling it to insulate tanks between 20 and 80 gallons. The insulation blanket is entirely fiberglass-free, making it easy to install, and it comes with the foil tape necessary to secure it around the tank.
The material is easy to cut around drains and burners for added safety. While there is no mention of fire resistance in the product information, foil isn’t flammable.
Water heater blankets are all about saving money, but the thriftiest of shoppers might appreciate the affordability of the US Energy Products Water Heater Blanket Insulation. This roll of foil-type insulation features two layers of air bubbles inside the foil face, offering both reflective insulation and a thermal barrier at a low price.
This water heater insulation blanket comes with enough material to wrap a water heater between 20 and 80 gallons. It also features a commercial-grade design that’s resistant to tearing for added durability.
Though it doesn’t come with foil tape, purchasing a roll separately will give the installer plenty of material for insulating a tank and other objects, like basement windows or doors.
Just because a water heater blanket is lightweight doesn’t mean it can’t do the job. So those looking to maintain tank temperature with lightweight insulation should check out Reflective Foil’s Hot Water Tank Heater Insulation kit.
This kit comes with a roll of foil-type insulation that measures 72 inches tall by 76 inches wide, allowing users to insulate tanks between 50 and 60 gallons. It’s also Class 1/Class A fire rated. The lightweight design makes the insulation blanket very easy to install. There isn’t any fiberglass to contend with, so slicing it to a custom size is simple.
The kit includes the foil tape and spacers (small chunks of foam used to make a consistent circumference around the tank) necessary for installing it on a variety of tanks.
Buying a large kit to insulate a small tank can be a waste of money. Reflective Foil’s Hot Water Tank Heater Insulation Jacket is designed to work with water heater tanks up to 40 gallons to save cash and avoid wasted material.
This kit features a roll of Class 1/Class A fire-rated foil insulation, foil tape, and the spacers (small chunks of foam used to make a consistent circumference around the tank) necessary for a good fit.
The roll measures 48 inches tall by 76 inches long, covering most smaller water heater tanks with ease. And, because it’s fiberglass-free, installers can work without masks or long sleeves.
DIYers with a water tank to insulate, as well as other insulation projects around the house, may want to pick up the US Energy Products Reflective Foam Insulation shield. This 48-inch by 10-foot roll of aluminum-polyester foam insulation has enough material to insulate water heaters of varying capacities.
It can also work for such insulation projects as garage and basement doors and ductwork. The metalized surface reflects heat back into the tank while the foam creates a thermal barrier.
This foam insulation blanket features a fire-resistant rating of Class 1/Class A, meaning it’s more than suitable for water heater insulating projects. The fiberglass-free material is easy to cut or slice to shape. Installers needn’t worry about wearing a respirator while working with the fiberglass-free material.
FAQs About Water Heater Blankets
If you still want more information about buying and using the best water heater blanket, consider the answers to these frequently asked questions.
Q. What makes a great water heater blanket?
A great water heater blanket will offer a blend of insulation value, cost-effectiveness, and fire resistance.
Q. What size water heater blanket do I need?
It depends on the size of your tank. Generally speaking, manufacturers label their water heater blankets according to the size of the tank they’ll cover. If you’re unsure, measure your tank’s height and circumference, and compare it to the measurements on the package.
Q. Do I need to maintain my water heater blanket?
Water heater blankets are low maintenance, but fiberglass, cotton, and denim can begin to smell and stop insulating if they get wet. It’s a good idea to check on your water heater blanket a few times a year to ensure it’s still in good condition.
Q. How long will my water heater blanket last?
Undamaged water heater blankets may far outlast a water heater. The average gas water heater lasts between 8 and 12 years, while the average electric water heater lasts 10 to 15 years. A water heater blanket kept in good condition will outlast a water heater without issue.