What's the Best Temperature for Your Water Heater?

What's the Best Temperature for Your Water Heater?

-- When it comes to maintaining a comfortable and functional home, few appliances are as vital as the water heater. It ensures you have a reliable supply of hot water for daily chores, showers, and even appliances like dishwashers and washing machines. However, determining the ideal temperature for your water heater can be a bit of a conundrum. Should it be scalding hot or just lukewarm? In this blog, we'll delve into the factors to consider when setting the temperature on your water heater and help you find the perfect balance between comfort, safety, and energy efficiency.

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The Basics of Water Heater Temperature

The temperature setting of your water heater determines the temperature of the water that flows into your taps and appliances. The default setting on most water heaters is around 140°F (60°C), but this temperature might not be the best choice for everyone. Here's a breakdown of the factors to consider when determining the best temperature for your water heater:

  • Safety

Safety should always be the top priority when selecting your water heater temperature. Water at 140°F can cause severe burns in just a few seconds, especially for children and the elderly. If you have young children in your household or individuals with limited mobility, consider setting the temperature lower to reduce the risk of scalding accidents. A temperature of 120°F (49°C) is often recommended as a safer option.

  • Energy Efficiency

Setting your water heater at a lower temperature can save energy and reduce utility bills. For every 10°F (5.6°C) reduction in water temperature, you can save up to 5% on water heating costs. However, be cautious not to set the temperature too low, as this can result in insufficient hot water and bacterial growth within the tank. A temperature of 120-130°F (49-54°C) is often a good compromise between energy efficiency and comfort.

  • Comfort

The ideal water temperature can vary from person to person. Some prefer hot showers, while others find lukewarm water more comfortable. It's essential to find a temperature that suits your household's preferences. If you often find yourself adding cold water to a scalding hot shower, you might want to lower the water heater's temperature slightly.

  • Dishwasher and Laundry

Consider the appliances that rely on hot water, such as dishwashers and washing machines. Check their recommended temperature settings in their user manuals. Usually, these appliances work best with water heated to around 120°F (49°C).

  • Legionella Bacteria

Legionella bacteria can grow in stagnant water at temperatures between 68°F (20°C) and 122°F (50°C). To prevent bacterial growth, ensure your water heater's temperature is set above 122°F or that you regularly use hot water throughout the house to prevent stagnation in pipes.


Choosing the best temperature for your water heater involves finding the right balance between safety, energy efficiency, and comfort. Always prioritize safety, especially if you have young children or elderly family members in your household. To save on energy costs, consider reducing the temperature slightly while ensuring it remains hot enough to meet your daily needs. Keep in mind the temperature requirements of appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, and take steps to prevent bacterial growth in your water system.

By understanding these factors and making informed decisions, you can optimize your water heater's temperature settings to suit your specific needs and create a more comfortable and efficient home environment. Remember to consult your water heater's user manual for guidance and consider seeking professional assistance if you're unsure about adjusting its temperature settings.

Learn more about mini-tank water heater maintenance


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