Set your water heater to this exact temperature and save money this winter

This story is part Tips for the houseCNET’s collection of handy tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

Nothing beats a hot shower after a long stressful day. But if you’re anything like me, your enjoyment is always tempered by nagging thoughts of how much that water really costs. This concern is not for nothing: hot water heating can represent 14% to 18% of an average electricity billaccording to the Department of Energy.

You have probably already noticed that your utility bills cost more than usual this year, especially your gas and electricity bills. And those will only increase more significantly this fall and winter. In fact, families are expected to pay 17.2% more for heating this winter, the highest in more than 10 years, according to the National Association of Energy Assistance Directors (PDF). This means that saving money will be a priority.

If you’re looking to save money, considering your water heater (and your hot water usage) is a good place to start. Here’s what you need to know. For easier ways to cut costs, just try turn off the lights and to do the laundry the most cost effective way. You can also consider buying a smart thermostat Or other energy efficient smart devices.

The ideal temperature to set a water heater

If you’re looking for the short answer, it’s 120 degrees Fahrenheit (about 49 degrees Celsius). Many water heaters are set to 140 degrees F as factory specs, but lowering the temperature can result in energy savings of 4% to 22% and up to $400, according to the Department of Energy. Even on the lowest setting, you should have no trouble getting your shower or dishwasher hot enough.

And the default setting of 140 F (60 C) may disappear. Recent installation manuals for Major Residential Water heater manufacturers actually require a starting temperature of 120 F (49 C).

CNET Home Tips Logo

The lower temperature might have more to do with preventing burns than saving energy. Since 140 F can cause second and third degree burns in five seconds, lowering the temperature of your water heater can protect you from financial and physical pain.

Changing your water heater’s thermostat should be a simple matter of turning a dial or entering a temperature. If you’re not sure where your thermostat is or how to read it, you can check your owner’s manual or talk to a licensed professional.

After adjusting your water heater, the Department of Energy recommends performing a simple test, as the reading from the device may be inaccurate. Once the change has been made, open the hot water faucet farthest from your water heater and measure the temperature with a thermometer. If it doesn’t meet your target temperature, adjust the thermostat and try again in two hours.

What’s the catch?

The Department of Energy lists some additional considerations if you change the temperature of your water heater.

Some dishwashers need water between 130 F and 140 F to perform optimally. So monitor the performance of your dishwasher after changing the temperature. If your dishes aren’t as clean, you may need to readjust them.

There is also a small risk of water at 120 F growing Legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaire’s disease. The Department of Energy calls it a small risk, but if you or someone you live with has a weaker immune system, you might want to raise the temperature a few degrees. The concern is generally for tall buildings, a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Recent guidance from the CDC says setting your water heater to a higher temperature can kill more germs, but the risk of scalding, especially for young children and the elderly, should be carefully monitored.

Other ways to save hot water

Besides the thermostat, you also need to pay attention to the pipes and tank of your water heater. Tank and pipe insulation can save heat when not using hot water. You can also install low-flow faucets and showerheads, which will reduce the amount of hot water you use without affecting your experience.

If you are unsure whether you can make any of these improvements yourself, consult your utility. Utilities may offer free or discounted energy efficiency fixes for the home. In some cases, someone from the utility will come and install the insulation and new showerheads for free.

In addition to adjustments to your home’s hot water infrastructure, you can adjust your habits. Take shorter showerswash clothes cold, shower instead of bathe and using a dishwasher can save hot water.

Many water heaters have an expected lifespan of around 10 to 20 years. If you need to replace your water heater, look for an efficient one. You can start with Star Energywhich will help you find energy savings Energy Star certified water heaters and provides you with buying guides for choosing brand, power source and type, like tankless or storage.

You’ll need to balance the initial costs of a water heater with the savings over time, but water heaters, like many appliances, typically have estimated energy costs disclosed before purchase.

The bottom line

An easy way to save money around the house – sometimes up to hundreds of dollars a year – is to lower the temperature of your water heater and use less hot water. When the time comes to replace your water heater, energy efficient options can help and several models are available to meet your needs.

After examining your water heater, proceed to your air conditioner, rethink the placement of your thermostat Where consider solar energy.

More ways to save at home

Comments are closed.