What Temperature Should a Water Heater Be Set At: Factors to Consider

what temperature should a water heater be set at

How hot is too hot when it comes to your water heater settings? The recommended setting ranges between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, but the exact temperature suggested by the Department of Energy and manufacturers varies. As such, there is no single right answer.

Each household has different hot water needs that will impact their ideal settings. When you want to know what temperature should a water heater be set at, you need to consider several factors. Davis Home Services, which offers water heater replacement services in Burlington, New Jersey, suggests these factors to consider before setting the temperature on your water heater.

Consider the Size of Your Household

If you have a larger household full of people who enjoy taking hot showers, you probably feel like you never have enough hot water to go around. This is because your family will use significantly more hot than cold water to reach their desired temperature. If you place your water heater on a higher setting, the water coming out of it will be hotter, and you won’t need as much to reach that same temperature.

Raising the temperature setting on your water heater ultimately makes your hot water supply last longer. It will ensure everyone gets a hot shower, with plenty leftover to run your dishwasher and washing machine. If you live alone or with just one other person, you can likely get away with having low-temperature settings on your water heater.

Consider the Age of Those in the House

Hot water can be incredibly damaging to children and infants with their highly sensitive skin. In fact, it only takes five seconds of exposure for a baby to receive third-degree burns from water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. To eliminate this risk, we suggest parents with children under three set their water heater between 120 degrees Fahrenheit and 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

As we get older, our skin ages as well, ultimately becoming more sensitive. Many elderly homeowners are also prone to hot water burns, but perhaps not as easily as children. For older people with sensitive skin, we recommend setting your water heater at or below 130 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consider Those With Suppressed Immune Systems

If anyone in your home suffers from a suppressed immune system, a water heater set too low can be a health risk. The water needs to be hot enough to kill off bacteria in the shower and drain, preventing it from getting near those it will impact the most. If you or someone in your household has a suppressed immune system and no children live in the house, we recommend setting your water heater at 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Consider Your Dishwasher

Do you have an energy-efficient pre-heating dishwasher? These popular appliances heat water to proper sanitization levels without needing you to raise your water heater settings. If you don’t have one, you may want to consider increasing your water heater temperature to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Doing so will ensure any bacteria on your plates and silverware get killed off, leaving you with squeaky clean and safe cookware. You should consider all other factors first, though, as a water heater set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit wouldn’t be suitable for every home.

Consider Energy Costs

When you wonder what temperature should a water heater be set at, you likely will also consider your energy bill. Typically, a water heater will make up between 14% and 18% of your home’s energy consumption. While it sounds high, lowering a water heater’s temperature doesn’t always save money.

Reducing your water heater’s temperature by ten degrees will add up to between a 3% and 5% savings. However, since bacteria can survive at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, it isn’t recommended to set your temperature lower than that. Besides, lowering it would only lead to arguments over shower water and likely only save you a few dollars a month.

Consider Your Current Temperature Setting

Check the dial on your water heater to see what temperature you currently have it set to. If you’re displeased with how much hot water you get in the shower, or you want to try to lower your energy bill, make adjustments in small increments. Do this until you find the best setting for your household.

After installing brand new electric water heaters, start at a setting of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the lowest recommended setting that will provide sufficient amounts of hot water and still kill off any bacteria. Then increase the temperature five degrees at a time until you find what works for you. 

Consider a Hot Water Tank Booster

It’s common for households to want to keep their water heater at a lower temperature because they have small children but are worried about bacteria growth. This can especially be an issue for families with immune-suppressed children. A hot water tank booster will give you the best of both worlds.

It keeps the water in your hot water tank at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, preventing the growth of pathogens and bacteria. The water then mixes with colder water and is 120 degrees Fahrenheit when it comes out of the faucet or tap. It makes an ideal solution for many households.

Find Help With Your Water Heater Today

If you’re still wondering what temperature should a water heater be set at, contact us at Davis Home Services. Our team of professionals can answer any of your questions and put an end to fights over the thermostat. We offer various water heater services, including repair, replacement, maintenance, and installation.

As homeowners ourselves, we understand how frustrating it can be to suddenly lose access to your hot water. Our trusted experts will have things up and running again in no time—it’s our guarantee.

At Davis Home Services in Burlington, NJ, we’re happy to take your call at any time of the day or night. Our emergency services are always available. Call us now at 844-226-9872 to learn how our trained technicians can assist you with your problem or schedule an appointment.

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