For many people, nothing feels quite as good as a hot shower to get the morning started. Even though that might be a fantastic way to wake up and start the day, experts say it’s possible to set your water too hot.

Setting your water heater to a temperature that’s scorching can waste energy and cost you money. It also can pose a safety challenge for members of your family. But, if you set your water heater temperature too low, it can permit growth of potentially harmful bacteria and not supply sufficient hot water for your property.

So, what temp should you set your water heater? Here, we’ll identify the most cost-effective temperature to use, when there could be cause to set it a little higher and how hot is too hot for your own water heater.

What Is the Most Efficient Temperature for a Water Heater?

Although many manufacturers advise setting the water temperature at 140 degrees, a more economical temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Industry experts say 120 degrees provides the right balance between safety and energy usage.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that setting a home water heater temperature at 120 degrees could save approximately 22 percent on a home's utility bills. Energy waste is a frequent challenge for water heaters because traditional tank models continuously heat a tank of water in case it is required. If you have the water heater temperature set too high, your water heater is forever heating a tank brimming with super-hot water.

What Temperature Should I Set My Hot Water To?

In most cases, the suggested efficient temperature of 120 degrees is the right setting for your water heater. At 120 degrees, the water is hot enough to meet the needs of most homes, but not so hot that it could cause burning skin on contact. This makes it a safer alternative, especially in homes with younger children or elderly individuals. Reduced temperatures also cut down on mineral deposits in your water heater, which could cause it to break down or need replacement.

Can I Set My Water Temperature Hotter Than 120 Degrees?

While many industry experts say 120 degrees is the ideal water heater temperature if you’re trying to save money, is it OK to set it higher? In addition to personal preference, there are some circumstances where it could be wise to set your water temperature a little higher, between 130-140 degrees:

  • Bacteria: Hotter water temperatures can be a good way to eliminate harmful bacteria that can cause or worsen certain health conditions. This also may be practical if you know your home has trouble with bacteria, or if any people who live in your home are immunocompromised.
  • High usage: If your home has a tendency to use a large volume of hot water all at once—showering while also running the dishwasher and washing machine, for example—a higher water heater temperature may be necessary to make sure there’s adequate hot water for all the household's needs.
  • Old dishwasher: If your dishwasher is an older model and doesn’t heat water on its own, you may have to set your water heater to a higher temperature for it to work correctly.

How Hot Is Too Hot for a Water Heater?

Even though some people like their water extremely hot or would rather blend hot and cold water to achieve their desired water temperature, there is such a thing as water that is too hot. Experts say any temperature above 140 degrees is too hot for a water heater in a residence. At 150 degrees, which is considered way too hot, it takes just seconds for the water to create third-degree burns. This is why a water heater temperature of 150 degrees is especially unsafe in households with children or the elderly.

Call Lakeside Heating & Air for Your Water Heater Service Needs in Chelan and Wenatchee

Water heaters can sometimes feel a little mysterious, but the knowledgeable pros at Lakeside Heating & Air know these appliances extremely well. They’ve fixed many brands and models of water heaters over the years, so they have the experience to tackle your water heater repair in Chelan and Wenatchee.

We also provide water heater replacement, so call us at 509-284-4265 if you suspect you need water heater installation in Chelan and Wenatchee. We are happy to take a look at your system and provide a no-cost estimate!