Adjusting Your Water Heater Settings: The Best Ways To Maximize Efficiency

Adjusting Your Water Heater Settings: The Best Ways To Maximize Efficiency

Anthony Barnes

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Not many people seem to realize that doing something as simple as choosing the right setting on their water heater can save them a fairly substantial amount of money.

While most of us don’t typically give our water heater a second thought, making simple adjustments can surprisingly be very important. 

In fact, adjustments will not only save us a nice amount of money, but they will also improve our bathing and showering experience, making it much more comfortable. 

If you want to learn how to maximize your efficiency by making adjustments to your water heaters settings, be sure to keep reading!

Your Default Heater Settings

All water heaters come with varying default settings. Some have a default temperature setting of 14 °F, whilst others have lower or even higher settings.

A default temperature setting of 140 °F is a lot higher than anyone needs, therefore there is already one way we can look to save money.

The main reason most manufacturers set the default temperature so high is that bacteria doesn’t survive in waters with temperatures so high.

For anybody suffering from illnesses or diseases that affect their immune system, these high temperatures can be fantastic. 

Another reason manufacturers set the default temperature so high is simply down to the wow factor.

High temperatures easily impress customers who have just upgraded their tanks, making them feel much better about what they have purchased. 

If you are lucky enough to not have any diseases that impact your immune system, once the wow factor has worn off, you’re more likely to be happier saving a nice amount of money.

We will look at how you can save this money now!

How Much Do Your Water Heater Settings Cost You?

You won’t actually believe just how much money you can save by simply changing the default temperature settings on your water heater.

Generally speaking, you’ll save 10% on your bills for every 20 °F your electric or gas water heater settings are dropped. 

That may not seem like much, but over time it will seriously start to add up.

Bearing this in mind, why not think about how hot your water heater settings are and how hot they actually need to be. You could be wasting so much money unnecessarily.

You might now be thinking, “hold on, I love my hot showers”. 

This is a fair thing to think, but even those who love really hot showers can still save plenty of money. Some water heaters have a default temperature setting of 140 °F. Nobody is taking a shower at that temperature.

In fact, those sorts of temperatures pose scalding risks. You most likely won’t even notice the temperature change. Besides, if you do, you can easily change the settings when you get in the shower.

Making Adjustments To Your Water Heaters Settings

Making Adjustments To Your Water Heaters Settings

Now you know the benefit that awaits you if you lower your water heaters’ temperature settings, we want to show you how you can make these adjustments to your water heater. 

When changing water heater settings you should always be patient and take care when changing things you don’t understand.

If you’re not sure how to change your water heater settings, make sure you follow our instructions below carefully.

1) Take A Temperature Reading

Before changing any settings, you should first check the temperature of your water. While this can be done on the heater tank’s dial, the reading is quite likely to be unreliable.

As a result, the best thing you can do is measure the temperature of the water coming out of your faucet. 

Use a thermometer to do this. The Department of Energy advises that you measure the temperature of the water that comes out of the faucet that is found the furthest away from the heater.

When you get a reading, make sure you note it down.

2) Workout Where You Need To Make Your Adjustments

As we mentioned previously, water heaters differ from model to model. As such, you will need to identify where you make the adjustments to your heater.

Depending on the type of heater you have, the method you use to adjust your settings could be below. 

Electric Water Heater

When it comes to electric heaters, you will have to change the temperature settings on the top of the unit and bottom.

You will usually find both controls behind a panel. This panel will have a host of knobs that you move until you reach the temperature settings you desire.

Gas Water Heater

Typically, gas water heater units have similar settings and controls to electric water heaters. However, older gas heaters might be quite different.

Older gas heaters tend to feature a temperature knob on their base. This knob can be easily turned until you again reach the required temperature.

Tankless Water Heater

Probably the easiest water heater to adjust the settings of is the tankless water heater. This type of water heater usually has an easy-to-use LED panel.

On this LED panel, you can directly change the temperature settings. 

We prefer these systems when it comes to changing the temperature settings as they are normally a lot more precise, especially when compared to dial-based systems.

3) Make Your Adjustments

Now you’ve identified where you make your adjustments, you can start to do so. If you own an electrical water heater, you should first make sure the electrical power is disconnected.

You can turn the power off by turning the necessary controls on your circuit breaker. This is also something you should do if your water heater uses gas as it also uses a small amount of electricity.

In terms of the temperature you should set it to, the Department of Energy recommends a temperature setting of 120 °F.

In our experience, this should be more than hot enough for use throughout your home. 

It is worth knowing that some control settings come with A-B-C settings as opposed to numbers. A would normally stand for 120°, B 130°, and C 140°. 

4) Tweak Your Settings As Required

You might find that you need to tweak your water heater settings once you’ve made your adjustments. By tweaking the thermostat settings a little more, you might be able to find the optimal setting you need. 

While it is great to save money, you should always try and find the right balance between savings and comfort. If comfort for you is over 120 °F, then don’t worry, just adjust the settings accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Highest Temperature Setting Of A Water Heater?

Most water heaters will not be able to go any higher than 150 °F. Trust us, that is more than enough. In fact, this temperature is arguably far too high.

Why Does My Water Get So Hot?

If you’ve never adjusted your settings before, your water heater will likely be set to the manufacturer’s default settings.

These settings could be set as high as 140 °F. Unless you change these settings, your water will always be that hot.

Is 150 °F Too Hot?

A setting of 150 °F is most definitely too hot for your water heater. With a temperature set this high, you are almost definitely going to scald yourself.

There is even more chance of this happening with children. You should change the temperature immediately if the water is that hot.

Final Thoughts

Adjusting your water heater settings can save you a lot of money. By dropping the temperature by just 20 °F, you can save up to 10% on your bills. 

In this article, we haven’t only shown you the benefit of adjusting your water heaters’ temperature settings, we’ve also shown you how to do so. 

Now you have all of this information at your disposal, why not see how much money you could be saving by reducing your water heaters’ temperature.

You can then implement our steps to adjust your heater safely. Good luck!

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age