What Temperature Should My Water Heater Be Set To?

What Temperature Should My Water Heater Be Set To?We all love a hot shower! So, when multiple people shower at once it can be frustrating to feel the water slowly cool while you’ve still got suds in your hair. It can be tempting to increase the water heater temperature to compensate, but what temperature should your water heater be set to for safety?

Too High vs Too Low

The default setting on most water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the Department of Energy recommends moving it to 120 degrees if you have small children in the home. Anything below 120 degrees though creates the risk for bacteria in your water heater and is not safe.

Anything above 140 degrees Fahrenheit is not recommended by either the Department of Energy or manufacturers because there is a risk of scalding. It only takes 2 seconds for young children to receive burns when exposed to water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

For this reason, we recommend setting your temperature between 120 degrees and 140 degrees depending on your needs and comfort.

Dishwashers and Washing Machines

Most modern dishwashers and some washing machines pre-heat the water to a higher temperature in order to kill any bacteria. If your appliances are older, you may want to bump your water heater temperature to the maximum of 140 degrees to keep your family safe. Just be careful to use a cold water mix when washing hands or showering.

Are your utility bills too high?

About 18% of your home’s energy use is the hot water heater. If your utility bills are higher than normal, consider adjusting the hot water heater temperature down. It’s estimated that for every 10 degrees you turn down the thermometer, you can save up to 5% on your energy bill.

Hot Water Tank Options

Even though there is a recommended range for the water temperature setting, the ideal is not straightforward. Start at 120 degrees and adjust the temperature up until you are comfortable. Make sure you let the water run for a few minutes to clear out the pipes.

If you don’t feel that your water temperature gets to your “comfort level” without going above the recommended temperature settings, then consider a tankless water heater.

A tankless water heater heats the water on demand and as long as the load is not too heavy can produce an almost endless stream of hot water at the temperature you desire.

If your water feels too hot but you are worried about pathogens then you might want to look into a water tank booster. A water tank booster keeps your tank at 140°F to avoid pathogens but mixes with cold water to deliver a lower temperature at the tap.

A final, less common option, is a hot water circulating system, for homes where hot water takes a long time to reach the tap. A hot water circulating system keeps hot water circulating in the pipes so you’re not waiting.

Contact IAQ today for your hot water needs or HVAC maintenance. We serve homes in Highlands Ranch and throughout the Denver Metro Area.