What’s the Best Temperature for My Water Heater?

Water heater temperature


According to the United States Department of Energy, the best water heater temperature for most households is usually 120 °F. Temperatures ranging between 120 and 140 °F are widely considered optimal by most plumbing and medical experts.

If you’ve come for the quick answer, you can stop reading right here. But if you would prefer a little explanation as to why you should set your water heater’s temperature at 120 to 140 °F, please read on. You’ll soon see that the best water temperature for one household may not be the best for another!

Risks of High Water Heater Temperature

Scalding hot water poses an obvious safety hazard, but an extremely high water heater temperature will also hurt your pocketbook in two different ways. Let’s begin with the danger hot water poses to you and your family.

  • Scalding

    Three hundred children are hospitalized for hot water injuries every day in the United States. Burns are the second leading cause of death for children aged five and younger. This isn’t just attributable to the fact that children make poorer decisions. Babies and children have 20 to 30 percent thinner skin, and accordingly receive skin injuries more easily.

    The Mayo Clinic advises setting your water heater’s temperature to no higher than 120 °F if you have children. The Mayo Clinic also advises bathing a baby in water no hotter than 100 °F. All parents can safely defer to so reputable an organization’s expertise.

  • High Power Bill

    An electric water heater accounts for as much as one quarter of a home’s energy usage. Reducing your water heater’s temperature by just 10 °F can reduce your household energy consumption by three to five percent.

    Since the average monthly residential electricity bill in South Dakota is $121.77, you may be able to save over $70 a year just by resetting your water heater from 130 to 120 °F.

  • Decreased Water Heater Lifespan

    The harder you work it, the shorter it’s going to last. This rule applies to water heaters just like any other machine you could own.

    But a water heater won’t just wear out quicker because it’s required to work harder. High water temperatures can accelerate the accumulation of hard water minerals such as calcium bicarbonate. Increased mineral buildup in the tank causes faster corrosion and increases the likelihood of leaks – two problems which will put you in the market for a water heater sooner than you would like.

Risks of Low Water Heater Temperature

Naturally, you don’t want to set your water temperature too low, as that will prevent you from effectively cleaning the dishes and enjoying a well-deserved hot shower after a hard day’s work.
But the greatest danger associated with low water heater temperatures is not so obvious. It is a nasty bacteria.

  • Legionella

    Legionella pneumophila bacteria cause Legionnaires’ disease – a severe form of pneumonia usually accompanied by lung inflammation. Twelve percent of people who contract Legionnaires’ disease will perish from the illness.

    Legionella dies instantly when exposed to temperatures ranging between 158 and 176 °F. That’s too hot for a water heater, but fortunately Legionella dies in approximately 32 minutes when it is exposed to a temperature of 140 °F. Simply put, when your water heater is set to 140 °F, L. pneumophila cannot live inside it.

The Best Water Heater Temperature Depends on Your Family’s Needs

There is no universally ideal water heater temperature. If young children live in your household, then you can help them avoid terrible injuries by setting your water heater temperature to no greater than 120 °F. But if you or another resident is at increased risk of contracting Legionnaires’ disease, then a water heater temperature of 140 °F will help prevent the infection.

Do you need water heater installation, repair or maintenance in Sioux Falls, SD? Our team of experts is standing by to ensure you have the safest and most cost-effective water heater your money can buy. Please contact us today to schedule fast service at your home or place of business!