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What Is The Right Temperature To Set My Water Heater?

You probably have a water heater installed in your home. However, if your home water is too hot and causes scalding, you need to set the water heater yourself. So, what’s the perfect water temperature for your heater? Here are things you need to know.

General Recommended Water Heater Temperature

The factory default setting on most new water heaters sold today is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Some say that’s the ideal temperature, while others argue that it’s best to reduce the maximum temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Environmental Protection Agency urges that the temperature be set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your water is not too hot to cause scalding. According to the Department of Energy, setting your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit is more than adequate to slow corrosion and mineral buildup while saving money on energy used.

OSHA recommends that you keep your water heater at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize your exposure to microorganisms, while CDC suggests you set your water heater temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, some homeowners will require the water to be a little bit hotter, but you need to be careful when going beyond this benchmark. High temperature increases the risk of scalding. To minimize the risk of scalding, you can install mixing valves or temperature-regulating devices on the taps used for bathing or washing. However, the best temperature for your home water heater could vary based on a few factors.

Factors That Could Affect Your Water Temperature Setting

  • Homeowners may set their water heater to 140 degrees Fahrenheit if they have a dishwasher that does not pre-heat.
  • Homeowners with small children or elderly homeowners may need to keep their water heater temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Homeowners may keep their hot water set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit if they have tenants with a suppressed immune system or respiratory disease.
  • Homeowners who live alone may aim to lower their water heater temperature in the acceptable range since the demand for hot water is less.
  • Homeowners may need 140 degrees Fahrenheit to kill rare Legionnaires bacteria that causes a severe pneumonia-like sickness.

Still in doubt? Set the temperature of your heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust in small increments until you get the perfect temperature.

Which Should You Choose?

Most households can choose 120 degrees Fahrenheit for their water heater temperature without any risk. The danger of scalding is less serious if you share a home with older relatives or toddlers. However, you may need to keep your temperature a little bit higher if you have an older system with stagnating water or if you’ve been informed that your water supply is prone to LDB bacteria. It’s also essential to keep the temperature higher if you have a compromised or sensitive immune system.

What Is My Water Temperature?

water heater

The water heater’s factory default temperature isn’t the exact temperature of the water coming out of your taps. You need to check your tap water temperature to be safe.

  • Don’t use the water heater for at least thirty to forty-five minutes before checking the temperature. (Skip this step if you’re using a tankless water heater)
  • Let the water coming from the heater run for at least three to five minutes to get a more accurate reading. Test the water temperature with a candy or thermometer.
  • If the temperature is higher or lower than what you need, adjust the temperature through the thermostat. Repeat steps 1 & 2 until you get the desired temperature.

Mark the temperature gauge on your water heater when you find the temperature you want.

How To Adjust The Water Heater Temperature

Once you decide on the best water temperature for your home, you need to change it. Before making any changes, make sure you check your water heater manual for precautions and safety recommendations.

Changing the temperature on gas water heaters is pretty simple. Just find the knob on the valve and adjust the temperature. However, it’s slightly trickier if you’re using an electric water heater. First, turn off power –then remove the thermostat cover and insulation. Some electric water heater models have two: A lower and upper thermostat. Use a screwdriver to adjust the temperature, and set the top thermostat slightly higher than the bottom.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, the recommended temperature for your water heater falls between 120 and 140 degrees, but the best temperature to set your water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps save on energy bills and minimize the risk of burns. Besides that, 120 degrees Fahrenheit is warm enough to kill bacteria. However, we advise you to test different settings to determine the best temperature for your home.