For lots of people, there’s nothing better than a hot shower to start the day. Even though that may just be a great way to wake up and start the day, experts say you can set your water too hot.

Setting your water heater to a temperature that’s scorching can throw away energy and cost you money. It also can cause a safety concern for members of your household. But, if you set your water heater temperature too low, it can allow growth of potentially harmful bacteria and not produce sufficient hot water for your property.

So, what number is the right one for your water heater? In this article, we’ll determine the most efficient temperature to use, when there could be cause to set it a little higher and how hot is too hot for your personal water heater.

What Temperature for my Water Heater Is the Most Energy Efficient?

Although many brands encourage setting the water temperature at 140 degrees, a better temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Industry experts say 120 degrees hits the right balance between safety and energy use.

The U.S. Department of Energy reports that setting a home water heater temperature at 120 degrees could save approximately 22 percent on energy costs. Energy waste is a frequent challenge for water heaters because traditional tank models constantly heat a tank of water in case it is needed. If you have the water heater temperature set too high, your water heater is consistently heating a tank full of very hot water.

So What Temperature Should My Hot Water Be?

More often than not, the suggested efficient temperature of 120 degrees is the right setting for your water heater. At 120 degrees, the water is heated enough to meet the requirements of most homes, but not so hot that it risks burning skin on contact. This makes it a safer option, especially in homes with young children or elderly men and women. Lower temperatures also decrease mineral deposits in your water heater, which could cause it to break down or need replacement.

Can I Set My Water Temperature Higher Than 120 Degrees?

While many plumbing and heating experts say 120 degrees is the best water heater temperature if you’re trying to save money, is it OK to set it higher? Beyond personal preference, there are a couple of different scenarios where it could be wise to set your water temperature a little higher, between 130-140 degrees:

  • Bacteria: Increased water temperatures can be helpful in eliminating harmful bacteria that can cause or aggravate certain health conditions. This also may be helpful if you know your home has trouble with bacteria, or if any residents of the house have a compromised immune system.
  • High usage: If your home is inclined to use a lot of hot water simultaneously—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 to go around.
  • Old dishwasher: If your dishwasher is old and doesn’t heat water as part of its process, you may have to set your water heater to a higher temperature for it to work effectively.

What Temperature Is Too Hot for my Hot Water Heater?

Even though some people like their water very hot or would rather blend hot and cold water to obtain their desired water temperature, there is such a thing as water that is too hot. Plumbing and heating specialists 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 only seconds for the water to cause third-degree burns. This is why a water heater temperature of 150 degrees is especially dangerous in homes with children or the elderly.

Call Kohles & Bach Heating & Cooling for Your Water Heater Service Needs in Des Moines

Water heaters can seem a little mysterious, but the knowledgeable specialists at Kohles & Bach Heating & Cooling know these appliances like the back of their hands. They’ve repaired many brands and styles of water heaters over the years, so they have the experience to handle your water heater repair in Des Moines.

We also offer water heater replacement, so give us a call at 515-207-6569 if you think you need water heater installation in Des Moines. We are happy to examine your system and provide a no-cost estimate!