How to Save Money by Turning Down Your Water Heater Temperature

How to Save Money by Turning Down Your Water Heater Temperature

Why Turn Down Your Water Heater Temperature?

Turning down the temperature on your water heater can help you save a significant amount of money on your energy bill each month. Here’s why:

  • Lowering the temperature reduces the amount of energy required to heat the water in your tank. This directly translates to savings on your utility bills.

  • Water heaters are often set higher than necessary, sometimes up to 140°F. Turning it down to 120°F is sufficient for most households.

  • For every 10°F reduction in temperature, you can save 3-5% on water heating costs. Those savings add up over time.

  • It puts less wear and tear on your water heater, potentially extending its lifespan so you don’t have to replace it as often.

How Much Money Can You Save?

The exact amount you’ll save depends on several factors, including:

  • Your current water heater temperature setting. The higher it is set now, the more you’ll save.

  • The size of your water heater tank. Larger households with bigger tanks use more energy.

  • Energy costs in your area. Electricity and gas prices affect savings.

  • How much hot water your household uses. The more you use, the more you’ll save.

To estimate your potential savings, use an online calculator. Input your current temperature setting, new temperature setting, tank size, fuel type, and energy cost.

As an example, a household with a 40 gallon electric water heater could save $100 per year by turning the temperature from 130°F to 120°F. Over a 10 year period, that adds up to $1,000 in savings!

How to Turn Down Your Water Heater Temperature

The process is quick and easy:

  • Locate your water heater and look for the temperature dial or knob. It may be behind a metal door or access panel.

  • Check the current temperature setting. Use a thermometer to test the hot water if unsure.

  • Turn the dial 10-20°F lower. Small adjustments make a difference. Don’t go below 120°F.

  • Give it time to adjust over a few hours, then test the hot water.

  • Make additional small adjustments as needed. Don’t make large reductions all at once.

If unsure where the dial is or how to access it, check your water heater manual or contact the manufacturer. A technician can help make the adjustment as well.

Caution About Setting it Too Low

Don’t turn the temperature down too far, because there are risks:

  • Settle it below 120°F and you increase the chance of bacterial growth in the tank. This can spread illness.

  • Hot water below 115°F presents a scalding hazard if someone accidentally opens a hot faucet.

  • Below 90°F and your dishwasher may not clean properly due to lack of sufficiently hot water.

In summary, 110-120°F is the ideal range for most homes. Consider installing thermostatic mixing valves if concerned about scalding.

Additional Tips for Savings

Turning down your water heater is one of the easiest ways to save money on utilities, but here are a few other tips:

  • Insulate hot water pipes to reduce heat loss as water travels to faucets.

  • Install heat traps on inlet and outlet pipes. These prevent convection heat loss.

  • Set your dishwasher to heat its own water instead of relying on your water heater.

  • Take shorter showers to use less hot water.

  • Fix any leaky faucets. Dripping water requires constant heating.

  • When away for long periods, turn the temperature down even further or switch off your water heater.

  • If your unit is over 10 years old, replace it with an energy efficient model to maximize savings.

With a few simple adjustments to your water heater and some changes in behavior, you can enjoy lower energy bills each month. Try lowering the temperature and monitor your utilities over the next several weeks to see the positive effects yourself.