Since your hot water heater constitutes almost 20 percent of your energy bill, making sure the temperature settings stay efficient goes a long way to keeping costs down. As far as an ideal temperature, the EPA suggest 120 degrees. At this point, water stays hot enough to keep bacteria and other harmful diseases away, won’t burn skin, and provides enough hot water for standard-size families.
Other Tips for Hot Water Settings
Regardless of your plumbing or hot water heater type, these issues can impact your household’s ideal water temperature:
- Occupants’ Age – If you have babies/toddlers or elderly family members living in the home, it’s even more vital you keep water temperatures set to 120 degrees. The delicate skin in younger and older individuals can burn more easily.
- Dishwasher Type – If your dishwasher doesn’t pre-heat water, you might consider upping the water temperature to 140 degrees.
- Household Size – If you live alone, staying in the lower temperature range (without going below 120 degrees) will help save money since demand for hot water is reduced. Larger households, on the other hand, generally set temperatures a bit higher to accommodate all family members.
- Health Concerns – Anyone with a struggling immune system or respiratory problem should consider hotter water (around 140 degrees).
Note: If you still can’t decide, try starting at 120 degrees and going up small increments until you find the ideal setting.
How to Locate the Current Setting
The dial on the hot water heater should tell you the current temperature setting. You can also turn on a faucet and use a thermometer (make sure the hot water runs long enough to reach the hottest temperature).
Troubleshooting Common Hot Water Problems
- Hot Water Tank Booster – If pathogens in your hot water or scalded skin concern you, a hot water tank booster keeps the temperature at 140 degrees but combines hot and cold water to ensure it’s only 120 degrees when it comes out of the tap.
- Hot Water Circulating System – If you have a large family or it takes too long for hot water to reach the tap, consider investing in a circulating system. It disseminates hot water in the pipes so it won’t cool down prior to coming out of the tap.