Should I Adjust My Water Heater’s Temperature?

That’s a great question and a great one to ask since your water heater is likely your highest energy consuming appliance in your home. Before you adjust that dial to start saving on your energy cost, consider this…
If you set your water heater’s temperature too low, you could, in fact, be creating a very unhealthy breeding ground for bacteria. On the flip side, accidentally setting your water heater’s temperature too high could threaten your family with a possible scalding water accident.

Just how low should I set the temperature on my water heater?
The US Department of Energy suggests 120 degrees Fahrenheit and water heater manufacturers typically preset all the water heaters they ship to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests that water heaters be set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, bacteria and other harmful pathogens that can lead to Legionnaires’ disease will have a much tougher time multiplying and die off quicker.

Should I be concerned about Scalding Water?
Certainly… and at the 140 degrees Fahrenheit temperature recommended by OSHA, third-degree burns can happen in as little as 5 seconds. Unsuspecting children often fall victims to scalding water due to the time it takes for hot water to travel through your home’s pipes. Slower moving seniors might also find it hard to quickly get out of the way of very hot water.
Believe it or not, there is a solution to keep both your family safe and bacteria in check. The solution is known as an anti-scald valve that can be installed at every faucet, making sure that the temperature never gets north of 120 degrees. These valves protect your family from scalding water while keeping harmful pathogens at bay.

How much energy can I save by turning down my water heater’s temperature?
Though it might be enticing to adjust your water heater’s temperature, it’s simply not worth putting your family in harm’s way. However, there are a few other measures that can cut energy usage related to water temperature.

  • Readily available at your local hardware store, you will find easy to install pipe insulation.
  • Use less hot water, take shorter showers, and favor a high-efficiency dishwasher over hand washing.
  • When it’s time, make sure to replace your water heater with an Energy Star Rated water heater or take it one step further and install a tankless water heater that heats your water on demand.
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