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Sweetwater Plumbing Blog

How Hot Should I Set the Water Heater?

water-is-too-hotThe water temperature in the water heater in your house can be adjusted using a device called the aquastat. However, before you start making any adjustments to try to find the ideal temperature—either to save energy or for comfort—we must caution you about what can happen if the water heater is set too low or too high:

  • Too low: Both we and the EPA recommend you never set the aquastat lower than 120°F. The water must be hot enough to kill off bacteria and other disease-causing microbes that may develop in the tank.
  • Too high: You create a risk of scalding temperatures in the house. We don’t recommend a setting any higher than 140°F.

Finding the Right Temperature

Because the hot water heater accounts for a large part of your heating bill during the year (usually the largest part), making adjustments to lower it can help cut down on annual costs. Every 10°F you lower the water temperature, you’ll save around 3 to 5% on annual heating costs. But again, don’t go lower than 120°F or you may run into health issues.)

If you’re looking for energy savings, we suggest you start by putting the aquastat down to 120°F and see if this is right for you when you’re in the shower. If you think it needs to be hotter, don’t raise the aquastat by anything more than a few degrees at a time until you’ve found the ideal temperature.

There are a few other points to consider:

  • Does your dishwasher pre-heat its own water or take the water straight from the hot water lines? If it comes from the hot water lines, you may wish to put the water heater temperature up to 140°F for a more thorough, hygienic wash.
  • A large household is probably better off with something warmer than 120°F. If you live alone, it’s easier to find what temperature you’re comfortable with and then make a small sacrifice for energy savings. A larger group of people will have different temperature tolerances and warmer is better.
  • Keep the water up around 140°F if there are people in your home who suffer from respiratory illnesses or have weakened immune systems.
  • Be cautious about higher temperatures if there are infants and elderly people in your home. Even 130°F may be too hot for a baby’s skin.

If you find that you can’t get the right temperature no matter what, the issue may be an aging water heater. We offer installation of water heaters in Riverside, CA along with our many repair services, and we can find a new water heater that will best serve your household.

For energy savings, we highly recommend you look into installing a tankless water heater, which only heats water as needed. You can enjoy a warmer water temperature while still cutting down significantly on energy use. (Tankless water heaters also don’t run out of hot water, which is a benefit in a busy household!)

Sweetwater Plumbing Is Always Open for Business. Call us any time of the day or night for water heater service.

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