Setting your Water Heater Temperature: Things to Consider

Think finding the right setting for your hot water heater is a cut-and-dry decision, centered mainly on a compromise between efficiency and water temperature comfort levels? There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration before determining the best temperature setting for your water heater.

Water Heater Temperature – Factors to Consider:

  • Setting your Water Heater Temperature: Things to ConsideEnergy Savings
    Though the standard temperature setting for most water heaters is 140-degrees F, the Department of Energy (DOE) recommends a setting of 120-degrees F for energy savings. Thinking of going lower? Unless you’re headed out of town, stay the course at 120-degrees – or you may risk complications of bacterial growth (see below).
  • Bacterial Growth & Resident Health
    Though the 120-degree temperature setting recommended by your local water heater maintenance company for energy savings is safe for most people, bacterial growth at this setting may pose a health issue for individuals with suppressed immune systems who may be best keeping water heater settings at the higher 140-degree mark.
  • Competition for a Hot Shower
    Full house? When back-to-back showers occur, that 20-degree temperature difference can make a huge difference in hot water levels. If you frequently experience high-traffic bathing times, stay-the-course at 140-degrees.
  • Young Children in the Home
    On the flipside, homes with young children (and the elderly) may prefer a setting of 120-degrees to prevent the possibility of scalding at the tap.
  • Dishwasher Performance
    Older dishwasher? Models without a booster heater may not clean dishes optimally with a temperature setting of less than 140-degrees.

How to Adjust Your Water Heater Temperature Setting

Always check your water heater manual for safety recommendations and precautions prior to changing settings. On gas water heaters, simply find the knob on the valve and set the temperature. Electric water heaters are slightly trickier: First, turn off power – this is essential. Then remove the thermostat cover and insulation. Some models have two: An upper and lower thermostat. Using a flathead screwdriver, adjust the temperature, setting the top thermostat slightly higher than the bottom.

Tips for Boosting Performance & Efficiency:

  • Insulate Tank-Style Heaters
    This is an inexpensive and easy way to prevent standby heat loss.
  • Keep it Clean
    Preserving water heater efficiency with hard water can be especially challenging as mineral buildup within the tank impacts performance and lifespan, and buildup increases with temperature. Dial-down the temperature and flush your tank frequently, scheduling professional maintenance for long-ignored systems.
  • Lower Your Flow
    Replacing older showerheads and faucets with low-flow options that reduce hot water use.
  • Replace Antiquated Systems
    If your water heater is ancient or you’re frequently suffering the effects of cold showers and water heater repair, chances are your water heater is the opposite of efficient. One of the top three consumers of energy in the home, a new water heater installation could ensure a more comfortable start to your day and save you a pretty penny in electricity, especially with the improved efficiency of today’s hybrid and tankless water heating options.

Looking for more ways to maximize the performance, efficiency, and safety of your water heater? Schedule a water heater maintenance service or replacement quote with the local air conditioning contractors at H & H Heating & Conditioning today.


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