It goes without saying that your water heater is the device that supplies your house with hot water. You rely on it for hot showers and baths, hot water for washing the dishes, and so on. But perhaps you are wondering if it’s okay for you to adjust the temperature? The simple answer is yes. However, some explanation is required.
The first thing to know is that the EPA recommends a water temperature of at least 120°F to guarantee that legionellae bacteria do not proliferate in the water heater tank. They also suggest that this temperature maximizes efficiency, though there is no hard evidence to prove that.
- Start at 120 and Go from There
Whether or not 120°F is right for your home is a matter of personal preference and need. Salt City Plumbing, a local plumbing contractor serving the Salt Lake City, UT area, recommends setting your water heater at the EPA standard and then going up or down from there.
At 120°, are your daily showers comfortable? Does your dishwasher get the dishes clean in one cycle? If both are affirmative, there is no need to turn the temperature up. Keeping it at 120° will save money and help reduce the speed at which minerals build up inside the tank.
If your showers are too hot at that temperature, consider turning it down. Just remember that going below 120° could mean that your dishwasher will not do a particularly good job – especially if it’s not equipped with a booster heater.
- Increasing the Temperature
Salt City Plumbing recommends increasing water temperature only at slight increments. Go a few degrees at a time. Why? Because once you start approaching 140°F, you are talking water that can easily scald. You have to be very careful, especially if you have children or seniors living in your home.
The EPA suggests increasing your water heater temperature to 130°F if you suffer from any disease that results in a compromised immune system. They also recommend caution about increasing to 140°.
- Water Heater Location
Before you actually turn up the temperature on your water heater, consider its location. Maybe yours is located in an unheated basement. If that’s the case, you may not actually have to adjust the temperature at all. Instead, try wrapping your water heater in an insulating blanket from the DIY store. Insulating could be more than enough to get the hot water you are looking for.
If an insulating blanket does work, your original problem had nothing to do with the water heater’s temperature setting. The water was never reaching the desired temperature because the environment was too cold. Solving the problem with an insulating blanket should mean using less energy to keep your water hot.
- How to Do It
Finally, actually adjusting the temperature on your water heater isn’t difficult. Older models are equipped with a dial. You just turn the dial to the desired temperature and that’s that. You can always test to make sure the water is reaching the right temperature by running your faucet for a couple of minutes and then measuring with a kitchen or medical thermometer.
Newer water heaters may be equipped with digital controls. In such cases, you increase or decrease temperature with the push of a button. You might even have the luxury of an on-board thermometer that boasts a digital display of the current temperature inside the tank.
Yes, it is okay to adjust the temperature of your water heater. Just don’t do it indiscriminately. Be cautious, so that you don’t end up causing injury with scalding water.