Should I Change My Water Heater Temperature?

by | Jan 25, 2019 | Plumbing Fixtures, Water Heater Service

Some people don’t even realize they can adjust the temperature setting on their water heater.  Some may have heard they can save money by lowing the temperature setting.  Still others have heard they should consider increasing the hot water temperature to prevent bacteria growth.

So, which is it?

If you’re happy with your warm shower and don’t have little children in your home or anyone with a weakened immune system, the odds are the thermostat on your water heater was set just right when it was installed.  And if you want to try lowering the temperature to save a little on your energy bill, that might be a possibility.

How low should I go?

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends lowing your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.   That setting gives a good balance of cost savings verses having hot water that is hot enough for most uses and users.  They say your energy savings from that adjustment would be from 4%-22% annually, plus you can expect an increased service life from your water heater because operating at the lower temperature range slows mineral buildup and corrosion.

However, 120 degrees verges on being right on the cutting edge of what could provide a breading incubator for disease-causing pathogens like legionellae bacteria.  But 120 degrees is still considered safe for the majority of the population according to that previously-mentioned DOE report.  So, there’s probably no need to worry about infection, especially if your automatic dishwasher also heats its water during use.

When I say I want hot water, I want it HOT!

If you prefer having your hot water heater deliver water that is scalding hot, you run the risk of 3rd-degree burns happening very quickly from water coming from your faucets.  This is of particular concern if you have small children or elderly persons in your home.  Water at a temperature of 140 degrees can cause painful and even life-threatening 3rd-degree burns in a matter of a seconds.

A safety solution for high-temperature water heater settings

An anti-scald valve, also known as a mixing valve or tempering valve, mixes cold water with the heated water coming out of the water heater tank and cools it to a hot but safe temperature when it comes out of your faucets.  Have you ever experienced a sudden blast of scalding water in the shower when someone else in your home flushes a toilet?  A properly installed anti-scald valve regulates the flow of hot water to prevent such unwelcomed nuisances.

Give us a call, and we can discuss with you the best options for your unique situation.  We can help you make the adjustments to lower your hot water temperature for energy savings, or we can assist with raising it or simply installing the proper anti-scald valves to give you a safer home environment.

Give Active Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call right now to schedule your service.

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(702) 438-3357

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