What Temperature Should I Set My Water Heater At?

Are you sick of burning yourself every time you turn on your hot water? Are you unable to get a comfortable water temperature, no matter how high you turn up the tap? These are not necessarily signs that your water heater is broken, but that the selected temperature may not be right for your needs. A water heater that’s set improperly can have a broadly-reaching impact on your life, including in ways that aren’t expressly related to your plumbing. For example, your water heater consumes around 18% of your home’s energy, and adjusting it by just 10 degrees can cause a three to five percent change in your monthly energy bill. It can also impact your health or the health of others who live with you in your home.

How should you set your temperature with so much riding on it? There is no set or straightforward answer, and some of it does indeed come down to personal preference. However, here are a few tips you can follow to make sure your temperature setting is perfect for you.

A General Benchmark

If you go to the Environmental Protection Agency, you’ll receive a recommended water temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, your water is not hot enough to cause scalding, most small families will get all the hot water they need, and reheating won’t need nearly so much energy, so you’ll actually save money for it. However, this temperature isn’t perfect for everyone. Some homes will need it quite a bit hotter for reasons we will discuss momentarily, but be careful when going beyond this benchmark.

Do You Have Any At-Risk People Living With you?

Water that’s too hot can severely impact those who are particularly sensitive to high temperatures. For young babies, it takes just two seconds of exposure to water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit to cause third-degree burns, and just five seconds at 140 degrees. Bringing the temperature down is much, much safer for your baby and better for your energy costs too. If you have an infant or any child under the age of three, we recommend a water heater set at no higher than 130 degrees.

Elderly homeowners should follow the same guidance and rules as well, as they too are prone to burning easily and potentially painful injuries from accidental exposure to water that’s too hot. However, those who suffer from suppressed immune systems or who deal with respiratory diseases may want a hotter water temperature to both kill off bacteria and create a higher concentration of steam in the air when showering. For these populations, provided there are no younger children in the house, we recommend a water temperature of no higher than 140 degrees.

Do You Have an Energy-Efficient Appliance?

Pre-heating dishwashers are becoming popular. These systems take in water and then boost the temperature to even higher levels for an even better and more sanitary clean, and they do so without requiring you to boost the temperature coming from your water heater. We strongly recommend looking for a dishwasher that has a pre-heat system in it the next time you’re due for an upgrade or replacement. However, if that won’t be for quite some time, you may want to bump your water heater temperature up to 140 degrees. This will keep the water nice and hot for your dishwasher and still remain safe to use for most of your family members, provided you also use enough cold water to compensate.

How Many People Live in Your Home?

Everyone has their own temperature preferences when showering, but you can usually fine-tune this with the hot and cold water knobs. Those who want a hotter shower use a higher ratio of hot-to-cold water. Those who like showers cooler use a lower ratio. However, the temperature of the water that comes out of your water heater will also influence this. If the water that comes out of your heater is hotter, people will need less of it and more cold water to reach their ideal temperature. For cooler water heaters, people will need more hot water and less cold water to reach their target.

This means that those who set their water temperature lower will also tend to run out of hot water faster. If you have a large home with several people living there, you should set your water temperature higher to make your hot water supply last longer. Smaller homes with fewer people living there can get away with a lower temperature, as they’re less likely to run out anyway.

Need help with your water heater? Whether you need your thermostat replaced or a new heater installed, call the experts at H.L. Moe Co. at (818) 396-8002 today.