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Why Should You Lower Your Water Heater Temperature

Mar 17, 2022

Lowering the temperature on your water heater may not be something you have ever considered. After all, who doesn’t love a steaming hot shower? However, there are benefits to lowering the temperature on your hot water heater that may make you think twice about keeping it on the factory settings. These reasons include decreasing the need for water heater repair and putting off water heater replacement. You can choose to drop the temperature yourself, or you can choose a technician specializing in HVAC maintenance in Franklin for your water heater needs. In the meantime, read on to discover the benefits of turning down your hot water heater.

Reasons to Lower Your Hot Water Heater Temperature

Even if you love hot showers, you should be open to the idea of decreasing your hot water’s temperature. There are several benefits to lowering the temperature, including all of the following:

Improved Safety

Water above 120 degrees increases the risk of burns. Exposure to water at a temperature of 140 degrees can cause severe scalding in 5 seconds or less. Although most people don’t realize it, your shower could be only a few degrees away from hurting you.

An adult might not need to worry too much about taking a scalding shower. After all, you can just get out of the shower when the water becomes too warm. But small children, the elderly, and limited mobility individuals may not be agile enough to remove themselves quickly. For this reason, you should consider dropping the temperature to a less dangerous range. 

Some people argue that a high temperature keeps bacteria away. However, you can kill off bacteria when the water is at a range of 125-130 degrees. Although this is still a little risky, you’re still taking steps to reduce the risk of a burn. 


If you have your water heated to anything over 120 degrees, you’re wasting energy. Water that hot results in  excessive stand-by heat loss. To put it simply, the hotter water stored in the tank cools faster. This means that a unit on stand-by will re-light the burner more frequently to compensate for heat loss. In an effort to bring the water temperature back up to thermostat settings, the burner needs to continuously reignite.

The reignition of the burner during this cycle wastes energy and increases the energy bill. By lowering the temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees, you can reduce standby heat loss and save up to 15 percent in annual water heating expenses. You put more money back in your own pocket, and you get savings in the form of needing fewer repairs.

The less your water heater needs to work, the less chance there is of it breaking down. If you drop the temperature on your water heater, you may be able to put off a need for repairs. You can also extend the life of your water heater. Between these savings and the lower energy bills, you can improve your financial situation. 


A hot water heater that is set above 120 degrees will quickly accumulate mineral sediments. Even if you don’t have hard water, you could have enough sediment to affect the heater’s functionality. 

At a high temperature, your heater is also more likely to experience corrosion. The overall lifespan of your water heater could significantly decrease because of your temperature setting. 

Furthermore, the sediment on the tank bottom also causes the burner to run longer and work harder in order to heat the water. In turn, this increases operational costs as well as wear and tear. The costs to cover HVAC repair services from the excessive use can be overwhelming. 

It is More Environmentally Friendly

Every hot water heater in the United States is responsible for an average of 2,200 to 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year. When you decide to lower your water heater temperature by a mere 10 to 20 degrees, you help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

How to Lower the Temperature 

If you’re convinced its time to lower your water heater temperature, you can get started. The most common way to lower your water heater temperature is to adjust the thermostat. Using a screwdriver, you can adjust the thermostat. 

If you have a tankless water heater, you can go another route and reduce the temperature by adjusting the settings on your control panel. Another option is to use a water heater blanket. These blankets wrap around your tank to help keep the heat in, and allow you to reduce the temperature setting without affecting the performance or lifespan of the tank.


Will lowering my water heater temperature save money?

Yes! Households that lower their water heater temperature can see annual savings of up to 15%. When set too high or at 140ºF, your water heater can waste anywhere from $36 to $61 annually in standby heat losses. This is when the surrounding water displaces the heat. Additional savings may amount to more than $400 annually, due to the temperature drop for usage in the areas of laundry, showers, and dishwashing.

What temperature should your water heater be set at?

The general consensus is that your hot water heater should be set between 120 degrees and 140 degrees. While there is a very slight risk of promoting legionella bacteria when hot water tanks are maintained at 120ºF, experts still consider this acceptable and safe for most individuals.

If you have a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease, you may want to consider keeping your hot water tank at 140ºF and installing mixing valves or other temperature-regulating devices on any taps used for washing or bathing.

What happens if you set your water heater too high?

A water heater set too high can maximize the risk of scalding and increase your energy bill. On top of that, your high heat creates efficiency and operational issues within the tank itself that will lead to fissures and fractures that allow for tank bursts. 

If you are looking for water heater repair or HVAC maintenance in Franklin, give us a call at Johnson Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing. Our trained and knowledgeable technicians are ready to respond to any and all HVAC-related issues!

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