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At What Temperature Should a Hot Water Heater Be Set?

Plumber repairing an hot-water heater

You need to make sure your water heater is set at the right temperature. If it is set too high, the hot water could scald your skin. If it is set too low, it can allow the bacteria that causes Legionnaires disease to thrive and grow.

What is the ideal water temperature for my home?

While the plumber preset the temperature when your water heater was installed, it may not be the best temperature for your home. The maximum Department of Energy recommended water heater temperature setting you should never exceed is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The lowest recommended setting should never be below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can use the answers to the following questions to choose the ideal water temperature for your home.

  • Do you or does someone in your home have a suppressed immune system? If so, then set your water heater to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Do you have any infants, toddlers, or children in the home? If you do, then turn it down to between 120 degrees and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. At 140 degrees, it takes just seconds for your little ones to get third-degree burns.
  • Do you have a dishwasher with a pre-heat or water heating feature? If you do, you can turn it down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • How many people live in your household? If you live alone or with one other person, setting the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees should be sufficient to meet your hot water needs. For a family of four, start at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and adjust it up in five-degree increments but do not go over 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water TankTemperature Setting

Another important consideration when setting the water temperature is the type of water heater you have in your house. If you have a water tank-type heater, never set it below 120 degrees unless you are on vacation and no one will be using hot water while away. Anything below 120 degrees allows bacteria to grow.

Tankless Temperature Setting

Since there is no standing water to worry about, you can set the water temperature slightly lower with a tankless heater. 120 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended initial energy-efficient temperature setting. If you find the water temperature too hot, turning it down to 110 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable.

How does the water temperature affect my energy bill?

On average, there is a 3% to 5% change in your monthly energy bills for every 10 degrees you adjust the temperature on your water heater. If you turn it down 10 degrees, then you decrease your energy usage and save money. If you turn it up 10 degrees, your energy bill will increase because you are using more energy.

How do I adjust the water temperature on my water heater?

Smiling technician servicing a hot-water heater

For water tank heaters, there is a dial on the front of the water tank. Simply turn it down or up to adjust the settings. For tankless water heaters, there is a digital display on the unit. Setting the water temperature is as easy as changing the temperature on your thermostat.

What should I do if my water temperature is inconsistent?

If your water temperature is inconsistent, it does not seem like your water gets hot enough, or all that comes out of the hot water lines is cold water, it is time to call a professional plumber for help. Additionally, if your water heater is more than 10 years old, you may want to talk to your plumber about upgrading to a new energy-efficient water heater.

For help setting the temperature on your water heater, or for water heater repairs, maintenance, or new installations in Temple, New Braunfels, San Antonio, or the Austin Metro Area, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 today!

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