For anyone looking to save money on their home energy bills, one of the simplest places to start is the water heater. I’ve noticed that a lot of homes have their water heaters set too high. The simple fact is that most homeowners, and even many plumbers, would rather error on the side of too hot.
Unfortunately, running a water heater like that wastes money every single day. Think about it – you’re using energy to heat water to a hot temperature, and then adding cold water to cool it off. It’s a built-in waste.
Most people I talk to aren’t sure what their water heater should really be set at – they don’t have a clear sense of exactly what the temperature is as it comes out of the shower or tap. But water heaters typically will go to 120 degrees or more, which is hot enough to scald, particularly children.
And by setting your water heater too high, you may actually be breaking the law. In many municipalities, zoning laws prohibit water temperatures over 120 degrees.
One of the excuses I hear for people running their water heater so hot is that they feel it’s safer for laundry, to sanitize clothes more. But that’s just not really necessary. Harmful bacteria and contaminants are removed adequately at lower temperatures through the action of the soap and the rinsing of the water.
Adjusting the temperature setting on any water heater is a relatively simple process, but it varies among several different types. You can consult your water heater’s manual to find the correct procedure. Regardless of the model, it’s usually just a few quick steps.
To arrive at a more efficient setting for your water heater, start with small adjustments, allowing the system to stabilize overnight. Keep working the temperature down until you don’t need much cold water to make the temperature comfortable.
Then keep an eye on your energy bills and enjoy the savings. I’ve been surprised by how much it can add up in a short time!