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Is There an Energy Efficient Temperature Setting for My Hot Water Heater?

What is the best temperature range for your hot water heater? The EPA recommends 120 degrees because it’s hot enough to keep diseases at bay, but not hot enough to cause scalding. The 120-degree setting should supply enough hot water for most small families and is relatively energy efficient. However, the best setting for you could vary based on a few factors. Here are some specific steps you can take to achieve the perfect temperature for your hot water heater and your family.

Start by Finding Your Current Temperature Setting

First, determine your hot water heater’s current temperature before setting it to a new, energy efficient temperature. You can find the current temperature setting of your existing water heater by looking at the dial, if your unit is equipped with one. If not, you can also take a temperature reading from the faucet by using a regular, at-home thermometer. To do so, turn on the hot water tap and allow the water to run for a few minutes before taking the temperature. Letting the water run will ensure a more accurate temperature reading.

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Factors that Could Affect Your Hot Water Temperature Setting

Regardless of the type of plumbing you have within your home (PEX, PVC, or copper), how your water is heated (gas or electric), or even if your water heater is tankless, for every 10 degrees you turn down your water tank thermometer, you can save 3-5% on your energy bill (to a minimum setting of 120 degrees). This can add up to substantial energy savings for a family each year!

If you are unsure of what temperature is best for you, set your water heater to 120 degrees and increase the temperature setting in small increments until you find the perfect shower temperature. However, before you change to a different temperature setting, here are some things to consider:

  • Families with small children should keep the temperature at 120 degrees. According to BabyCenter.com, “It takes just two seconds for a child to receive third-degree burns from water that is 150 degrees and five seconds at 140 degrees, the temperature setting at which most hot water heaters leave the factory.”
  • Lowering your water heater to an energy efficient temperature is not recommended if a member of your family has a suppressed immune system or respiratory disease or if your dishwater does not pre-heat the water. In these cases, it is best to keep your water heater set to 140 degrees.
  • You should never bring your hot water temperature below 120 degrees. Though some homeowners may feel that will make their heater even more energy efficient, such a low temperature can cause harmful bacteria to build up and spread throughout your system.
  • If your hot water heater does not supply an adequate amount of hot water, is taking longer to heat water, or is leaking or making noise, it’s time to schedule service. In such situations, it’s best to call a professional rather than attempt to adjust your heater yourself.

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Still Have Questions?

Finding the right temperature for your water heater can take a little time and effort. But if you are experiencing other issues, such as your water heater isn’t hot enough no matter what setting it’s on, or you want to discuss other, more energy efficient hot water heater options, Mr. Rooter can help. We can help you dial in just the right energy efficient temperature for you and your family as well as troubleshoot any problems. Based on your situation, our Mr. Rooter service professional will provide you with an option that works best for you. Call to schedule an appointment today!