Technician performing water heater service

For many people, nothing feels quite as good as a hot shower to get the morning started. While that may be a great way to wake up and start the day, experts say you should be careful not to set your water too hot.

Setting your water heater to a temperature that’s above the recommended degree can squander energy and cost you money. It also can pose a safety concern for members of your family. But, if you set your water heater temperature too low, it can allow growth of potentially harmful bacteria and not supply sufficient hot water for your dwelling.

So, what temperature is the right one for your water heater? Here, we’ll determine the most efficient temperature to use, when there could be reason to set it a little higher and how hot is too hot for your own water heater.

What Water Heater Temperature Is the Most Efficient?

Although many brands encourage setting the water temperature at 140 degrees, a better temperature for a water heater is 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Specialists say 120 degrees strikes the right balance between safety and energy usage.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that setting a home water heater temperature at 120 degrees could save approximately 22 percent on energy bills. 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 forever heating a tank brimming with very hot water.

What's the Right Temperature for My Hot Water?

In most cases, the suggested efficient temperature of 120 degrees is a good setting for your water heater. At 120 degrees, the water is warm enough to meet the desires of most homes, but not so hot there's a danger of burning skin on contact. This makes it a safer option, especially in homes with younger children or elderly individuals. Lower 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 Higher Than 120 Degrees?

While many plumbing and heating experts say 120 degrees is the preferred water heater temperature if you’re wanting to save money, is it alright to set it higher? Apart from personal preference, there are some situations where it could be wise to set your water temperature a little higher, between 130-140 degrees:

  • Bacteria: Hotter water temperatures can be helpful in eliminating harmful bacteria that can cause or worsen certain health conditions. This also may be practical if you know your home has a problem with bacteria, or if any residents of the house have a compromised immune system.
  • High usage: If your home has a tendency to use a significant amount of hot water at the same time—showering while also running the dishwasher and washing machine, for example—a hotter water heater temperature may be necessary to make sure there’s adequate hot water for everyone.
  • Old dishwasher: If your dishwasher is an older model and doesn’t heat water itself, it may be necessary to set your water heater to a higher temperature for it to work correctly.

How Hot Is Too Hot for a Water Heater?

While some people like their water exceptionally hot or like to blend hot and cold water to create their ideal water temperature, there is such a thing as water that is too hot. Energy officials say any temperature above 140 degrees is too hot for a water heater in a residential dwelling. 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 considered very dangerous in households with children or the elderly.

Call Bishop’s HVAC for Your Water Heater Service Needs in Sacramento

Water heaters can sometimes feel a little mysterious, but the knowledgeable pros at Bishop’s HVAC know these appliances extremely well. They’ve repaired many brands and models of water heaters through the years, so they have the experience to tackle your water heater repair in Sacramento.

We also provide water heater replacement, so contact us at 916-591-6889 if you believe you need water heater installation in Sacramento. We are happy to examine your system and give a no-cost estimate!