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Setting The Correct Temperature For Your Hot Water Heater

Correct Temperature for Your Water Heater

If you move into a new home, apartment, or office the last thing on your mind is checking and/or adjusting the temperature of the hot water heater. This is not a priority; however, it should be since your water heater accounts for almost 20% of your home’s energy bill. Having a water heater set too high can increase your monthly bill, and setting it too low can put you and your family at risk for bacteria growth. The EPA recommends a temperature of 120 degrees. This temperature is recommended for 3 reasons:

  1. It is not hot enough for scalding.
  2. This temperature will keep bacteria and diseases at bay.
  3. 120 degrees will provide enough hot water to the average American family while being relatively energy efficient.

The recommended temperature set by the EPA may not be the best for you and your family, so we have listed a few factors that can affect how hot or cold you may need to set your water heater.

Factors That Will Affect How You Set Your Hot Water Heater’s Temperature

Your plumbing systems (PVC, PEX, or Copper) will not have any bearing on the temperature you choose. Nor will the type of water heater you have (Electric, Gas, or Tankless Water heater). Rather the variables that will affect how you determine water temperature are based more on personal factors.

  • Do you have a dishwasher that does not have a pre-heat cycle? If so, you will want to set your water heater temperature to 140 degrees.
  • Are you caring for small children or elderly parents? If so, you will want to keep the temperature at 120 degrees. A water heater set to 140 degrees can scald a child in five seconds and one set at 150 degrees can give a child 3rd-degree burns in just two seconds.
  • Does anyone in your home have respiratory issues or are immune-deficient? If so you will want to keep the hot water heater set to 140 degrees.
  • Do you live alone? If you are looking to be more economical and save money we recommend setting your hot water heater to 120 degrees. Every 10 degrees you lower your hot water heater thermometer decreases your energy bill by 3 to 5 percent.

Still unsure how hot you should set your water heater? We recommend setting it to 120 degrees and slowly increasing the temperature until you find a temperature you are satisfied with.


You can find the current temperature setting on a standard electric water heater by removing the top and bottom panels located on the front of your water heater. Prior to removing these panels, we recommend shutting off the power to the water heater so you don’t shock yourself. If you don’t want to mess with the water heater you can get a reading from a faucet. Turn on the hot water tap and let it run for a few minutes prior to taking a temperature reading. Either of these methods will provide you with your current hot water temperature.

Professional Plumbing Services

If you do not feel comfortable checking or making adjustments to your hot water heater thermometer contact Metro Rooter today. We specialize in water heater replacement and repairs. Since 1978 Metro Rooter has been helping residential and commercial customers with all of their plumbing needs. As one of the largest and most trusted plumbers in Jacksonville, we have the resources and the equipment to handle any job large or small.

If you feel your hot water heater is not working properly or need us to trouble-shoot an issue, contact us today at (904) 567-3775

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