What's The Best Temperature For My Water Heater?


Water Heaters, Home Safety

temperature.jpegWater heaters have a maximum temperature setting that controls how hot the water in your faucets can be at any given time. Homeowners don't often realize that they are the ones in control of the temperature of their home's water heater.

Whether you have a gas or electric water heater, most new units have a default temperature preset between 120 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, water heaters that are set too high send thousands (mainly children) to the hospital to be treated for burns.

To keep you and your loved ones safe, let's break down what the best temperature is for your home's hot water heater.

Setting Your Water Heater at 120 Degrees

According to recommendations by the US Department of Energy and American Society of Sanitary Engineering, the ideal temperature to set your water heater at is 120° F. Advantages include:

  • Eco-Friendly 
    Not only does it use electrical or gas energy to heat your water, but it also uses it to maintain the water in the storage tank at that exact temperature (so you always have hot water on demand). Turn your water heater down 20 degrees to significantly reduce the amount of energy used.
  • Save Money 
    Reducing the amount of energy being used is not only better for the envirnoment, it's better on your wallet! Turning down your dial can potentially save you up to $60 a year. 

  • Prevent Mineral Buildup
    Cooler water is less likely to deposit minerals in your pipes, minimizing issues caused by hard water and keeping your water flow unobstructed.

  • Stay Away From Burns
    Water coming out of a faucet at 140 degrees can send you or a loved one to the hospital within seconds. It takes a few minutes before your skin will burn in 120 degree water.   

Setting Your Water Heater at 140 Degrees

Given the risk of scalding, why would anyone recommend a higher temperature? Well, actually, 140 degrees is declared safer by another government agency—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA.

Stagnant water inside water heaters, especially those serving multiple units in apartments or older divided buildings, and the connecting piping system from heater to taps can become breeding grounds for a plethora of pathogens. 

What Should You Set Your Water Heater To? 

It's important to maintain a balance between setting the water heater to a temperature reducing the risk of scalding, while also keeping a high enough setting to prevent illness.Most households are safe turning the temperature down to 120 degrees without risk.

If you share a home with toddlers or older relatives, the danger of scalding is much, much more serious than any rare strain of bacteria. However, you’ll want to keep your temperature higher if you’ve been notified that your water supply is prone to LDB bacteria, or if you have an older system with stagnating water. 

Dont' want to deal with the trouble of worrying about the temperature? Consider investing in a tankless water heater, which heats only water when needed and doesn't have a storage tank. 

Need Help? Contact Your Local Plumbing Professional. 

To answer all your hot water heater questions or need our emergency services right away, call Donnelly’s Plumbing Heating and Cooling at 215-855-2014 or click the banner below to schedule service online.

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Topics: Water Heaters, Home Safety

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