Should You Adjust The Temperature On My Water Heater?

If you're the kind of person who absolutely loves hot showers, one of the first things you most likely did when you moved into your new house was check the temperature on the water heater. If that's you, you may want to think again. Once about every minute, someone in the United States is admitted to the hospital for a burn that needs treatment. Many are caused by water from a consumer household appliance. Though you may not know it, adjusting your water heater temperature can be dangerous, if not downright deadly.

What Temperature Should Water Heaters Be Set At?

You may think there's no right answer to this question, but the EPA has actually determined that the appropriate temperature for water heaters is 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Any higher than that, and you run the risk of scald burns, but any lower and the colder water could be a breeding ground for new bacteria, resulting in a more frequent need for water heater services.

This isn't just a safety issue, however. The EPA also claims this could help make your home more energy-efficient as well. Water heating is the second largest energy-related expense in your home, and accounts for some of your total energy bill. If you want to save money, one of the quickest ways is to set the temperature on your water heaters to the appropriate temperature.

How Do You Change the Temperature?

Most water heaters have a dial on the side of the tank that makes changing the temperature a snap. Simply rotate the dial to 120 degrees, and within seconds, you'll be all set. If you have an electric or tankless water heater, the process is even easier. Access the panel on the unit and adjust it manually to 140 degrees, just like you would adjust your air conditioner thermostat.

If you've got an older model or one that is in a place that's relatively exposed to the elements (like the garage), the dial may still be there but could be faded. A simple way to test the temperature in the water is to turn on the water in your kitchen sink to the hottest possible temperature and let it run for three minutes. Fill up a glass of water and check the temperature; if the water is above 140 degrees, adjust the dial on the water heater and check again. Repeat this process until the water reads 140.

For more information about water heaters, speak with a professional.