If you look online for the ideal residential water heater temperature setting, you can probably find lots of suggestions. But the truth is, the ideal temperature setting can fluctuate a bit depending on the circumstances. Here are three instances when that’s the case.
A Decrease for Better Energy Efficiency
If your water heater has a tank, you pay around the clock to keep that water hot. And that’s true whether you’re using the water or not. If you don’t like the sound of that, you can ease the burden somewhat by lowering the temperature on your water heater. While the standard temperature is 140F, dropping it to the 120F range is the recommendation by energy experts to reduce your consumption and save a little green.
A Decrease for Children or the Elderly
Lowering the temperature on your water heater isn’t just more energy efficient. It’s also safer, and that’s particularly true if you have small children or senior citizens in your home. A water heater set to 140F means extremely hot water coming through your tap. While it will cool somewhat as it travels through the pipes, at its hottest, it will be close to that 140. That can mean scalding burns for vulnerable people, including children and the elderly, or anyone with delayed coordination abilities. Turning down the temperature on the water heater can help reduce this risk without sacrificing pleasantly warm water.
An Increase for Safety
While burns are an important consideration when it comes to water temperature, so is sanitation. It’s true that 120F should be hot enough to avoid most bacterial growth, but anyone with a compromised immune system should take no chances and keep water temperatures above at least 122F. Certain bacterial strains, including those causing Legionnaire’s Disease, can thrive in water below that temperature.
Older dishwasher models – those that cannot increase water temperature themselves – also need water heated to between 130F and 140F to properly clean and sanitize dishes.