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What Temperature Should My Water Heater Be Set At?

Technician water heater install

Your water heater’s temperature setting is a fine line that needs to be walked. It’s not enough to make sure you have enough hot water for a shower in the morning or a bath at night. It’s also important for your water heater to be safe, save energy, and last a long time.

You might be shocked to find out that if you set the temperature too low, harmful organisms can grow in your water tank. On the other hand, turning the heat up too high can cause your energy bills to go up and could cause you to get burned.

We’ll go over and explain what temperature your water heater should be, how to change it, and the different features and benefits of changing your water heater temperature.

Water Heater Temperature Recommendations

Enjoying longer showers or baths might tempt you to increase your hot water temperature. However, a slight increase can lead to scalding conditions or raise energy bills

To understand safe water settings, cost, safety, and health are factors to keep in mind:

  • Use 120 degrees F to avoid scalding hot water if you have seniors or children in the home. OSHA suggests 122° to stop bacteria growth. 
  • Use 140 degrees F for dishwashers without pre-heat settings and larger families to meet your hot water demand.

Change Your Water Heater Setting

To change your water heater temperature, look for the water heater thermostat and use the owner’s manual instructions or find it online. 

Confirm the current water heater temperature, and wait two hours before testing. Let the water run for three minutes and test it with a water or meat thermometer. 

Adjust the setting to the desired temperature and wait 24 hours for it to take effect.  

Energy Costs of Increasing Your Water Heater Temperature

Water heaters can make up 14% to 18% of your home’s energy consumption, and while it is tempting to lower the temperature for added savings, a 10-degree decrease can result in around 3% to 5% energy savings. However, the concern is legionella can thrive in 122-degree temperatures. Hence, balancing cost-savings and safety is important.

If your water heater includes a dial, experiment with small increases starting at 120 degrees. The benefits of lower water heater temperatures include decreasing your scalding risk. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Water Heater Temperature Changes

Raising the water temperature reduces the risk of bacteria and gives you access to extra hot water for cleaning, laundry, and bathing.

Drawbacks include higher energy costs and sediment and scale buildup in your pipes, which can cause dangerous bacteria and organism growth. 

Another drawback is the burn risk for small children and seniors with thinner skin less sensitive to water changes. The CPSC states that third-degree burns can occur at 150 degrees (two seconds), 140 degrees (six seconds), and 130 degrees (30 seconds). 

Why Choose Northern Comfort Systems for Your Water Heater Services?

For over 20 years, Northern Comfort Systems has helped homeowners in Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Anderson, and Muncie. Trusted and well-trained, our NATE-certified technicians are available for emergency repairs. Our services include water heater installation, repair, and maintenance.

Backed by a satisfaction guarantee and five-star reviews, make us your first choice!

Northern Comfort System’s team of expert plumbers can help keep your water heater running smoothly in IndianapolisTerre HauteAnderson, or Muncie, IN.

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