When you turn on your shower or faucet, as long as the water is just the right temperature, you probably don’t think about it more than that. But just what is the right temperature? Is there an ideal temperature to set your water heater so it’s as hot as you need it but not too hot?
Here are the considerations that affect that decision.
Scalding vs. Bacteria
If you have children or elderly parents in your home, this is one of the first things you’ll need to look at. Safety is your number one concern, especially for vulnerable members of your household. The maximum temperature in the international plumbing code. The maximum safe water temperature at your faucet or shower is 120oF (49oC). But is it the best temperature at your heater?
Bacteria like legionella thrive in warm water below 140oF (60oF) and this is another major health concern so you need to keep the water in your tanked heater at this temperature or higher.
Tanked water heaters maintain the set water temperature even if no one is using it. So while you’re away at work and the house is empty, energy is being used to keep your water heated since heat is continually lost through the tank walls throughout the day. To reduce energy consumption, lower temperatures are better.
When you use your hot water, however, you will need to use more at a lower temperature. Your hot water consumption goes up and depending on how much you use, you may even cancel out the energy savings from a lower temperature.
Your heater needs to be set to at least 140oF (60oC) to reduce the risk of bacterial growth. You can keep it higher to further reduce your risk but this only benefits you if you consume large amounts of hot water on a daily basis.
To prevent scalding, you will need a valve that mixes the hot water with cold water and delivers it at a maximum temperature of 120oF or less. You can have one valve for your whole house or you can make use of “stop limits” on your faucets to limit how far the handle can be turned so it always delivers water at a safe temperature. This allows hotter water to be used in appliances where there is no risk of scalding.
If you need help figuring out the best hot water solution for your home, give us a call and we can get you the right water heater temperature for your needs.