What Temperature Should I Set for My Water Heater?

Did you know that you can change the temperature on your hot water heater? The maximum temperature on most water heaters is 140 degrees fahrenheit. There’s some disagreement among experts on whether it’s best to set it at 140 degrees, or at 120 degrees. Ultimately, it will depend on what’s right for you and your family. In the meantime, let’s take a look at the arguments for both.

What Temperature Should I Set for My Water Heater

120 Degrees

  • Because of the energy involved in heating water, setting the heater at 120 degrees makes sense from an environmental standpoint. Reducing the temperature from 140 degrees to 120 makes a significant difference in the amount of energy being used. 
  • Reducing the temperature to 120 degrees also saves you money, as you won’t be spending as much on the energy to heat the water. 
  • Cooler water is also less likely to deposit minerals in your pipes, which means you’ll avoid mineral deposits. This will keep your water flowing, and the pipes in better shape. 
  • Hot water at 140 degrees can actually cause scalding, which is a big reason to keep it at 120 degrees, especially if you have young children. Kids and elderly adults are more susceptible to scalding, and it can cause major issues. 

140 Degrees

Considering the arguments laid out for 120 degrees, why would anyone even bother with setting the temperature at 140 degrees? The answer is that 140 degree water kills a strain of bacteria that can cause Legionnaires’ disease. This disease can lead to a serious pneumonia-like sickness. Risk factors for Legionnaires’ disease include old, rusty pipes or water storage areas where water sits stagnant for long periods of time. 

What’s Best For You?

Most homeowners can safely turn their water heaters down to 120 degrees without risk. This is especially true if young children are in the home, as the risk from scalding is much greater than the risk of Legionnaires’ disease. If, however, you’ve been warned about the possibility of LD bacteria in your area, you’ll want to turn the temperature up to 140 degrees. 

If you’re in an area where LD is a concern, and have young children, you may want to consider installing an anti-scalding device. A tankless water heater, which heats the water as it’s being used, may also be an option. 

Changing the Temperature

Once you’ve made a decision on what’s best for you, you may need to change the thermostat on your water heater. First, determine what temperature your water runs at now. Fill a glass with hot water, and check the temperature, using a kitchen thermometer. If you think you need to change the temperature, consult your hot water heater’s manual, to see how to do that. The thermostat may be hidden behind a plate. 

If you run into problems trying to change the temperature on your hot water heater, or have any other problems – call the licensed professionals at Pratt Plumbing. Schedule an appointment today at 806-373-7866.

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