Water heating accounts for about 18 percent of your utility bills, so reducing the water heater temperature can lead to significant savings. Use this guide to help you determine the best water heater temperature for your situation.
Determining the Right Temperature
The standard temperature for a storage water heater is 140 degrees, but the US Department of Energy recommends lowering it to 120 degrees. This slows mineral buildup, reduces scalding at the tap and saves 4 to 22 percent on your annual water heating costs.
Be aware that setting your water heater lower than 120 degrees increases the risk of legionellae bacteria growth in the tank. Therefore, 120 degrees is as low as you should go on a daily basis. Still, you can lower the water heater temperature temporarily to save energy while you’re out of town for a few days.
Factors that Affect the Best Water Heater Temperature
The ideal temperature setting could be different for you compared to your neighbor. Here are the variables that affect how you should set your water heater:
- Dishwasher features: Most modern dishwashers come with a booster heater to help the appliance work more effectively. However, if you have an older dishwasher, you may need to keep your water heater at 140 degrees to ensure your dishes come clean.
- Health problems: The risk of bacterial growth in your water heater increases the lower you set the temperature. If you have a compromised immune system, you should consider keeping the temperature at 140 degrees.
- Number of people in your home: A higher water heater temperature means you have more hot water to go around. If only one or two people live in your home, 120-degree water should be just fine. However, the extra 20 degrees could be useful if you have a family of six or more.
- Children or older adults in your home: Lowering the temperature to 120 degrees can keep younger or older family members safe from scalding at the tap.
How to Adjust the Water Heater Temperature
If you want to set your water heater to a different temperature, follow these tips to make an accurate adjustment:
- Find the current temperature: Many water heater knobs lack temperature readouts. This means you’ll need to measure the temperature yourself. Run the hot water at full blast and place a thermometer under the stream to find out the current temperature.
- Check and adjust the thermostat dial: Mark the starting temperature on the dial with a marker, and then twist the knob slightly.
- Measure the temperature again: Wait a couple of hours, and then measure the water temperature with a thermometer again. If it still isn’t quite right, adjust the dial and re-measure the hot water until you’re satisfied.
- Mark the knob: Mark the new preferred setting on the temperature knob so you can make future adjustments easily.
There are some things you know shouldn’t go down the toilet – like the toys and jewelry your kids are occasionally guilty of throwing in – but some no-nos aren’t as obvious. Here’s an incomplete list of the items you should never flush down the toilet.
Even if the packaging says they’re “flushable,” it’s best to toss baby wipes in the trash. Some manufacturers claim their products are safe to flush, but all this means is that the item will disappear when you depress the handle – it doesn’t mean the wipes will disintegrate the way toilet paper does.
Facial Tissues and Paper Towels
These products may seem very similar to toilet paper, but a different manufacturing process makes them hold up better in water. If you ever use tissues or paper towels in place of toilet paper, toss them in the trash when you’re done.
Cotton Balls and Swabs
These fluffy products may seem harmless, but when dunked in water, they enlarge and clump together. This could spell disaster for your pipes, especially if you flush several at once.
Feminine Hygiene Products
You should never flush tampons or pads down the toilet. After all, these are designed to absorb liquid, not break down in it. The need to sift out feminine hygiene products at the sewer treatment plant increases water sanitation costs for everyone.
They may be designed to collect numbers one and two, but diapers belong in the trash once they have done their duty. As with feminine hygiene products, diapers absorb liquids, so they won’t break down in your plumbing. In fact, they’re so large that they may not even be flushable.
The stringy nature of dental floss makes it a genuine hazard for your pipes. If it catches on something in your plumbing, other debris can latch onto it, gradually increasing the size of the blockage until you have a major clog to deal with.
When you find bottles of expired pills in your medicine cabinet, don’t flush them. The US Food and Drug Administration recommends pursuing a medicine take-back program if available. A suitable backup plan is to dispose of expired medicine in the household trash.
Mix medicines with unpleasant substances, such as dirt, used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and place them in a sealed plastic bag. Then, throw the bag in the trash. Also, scratch out all personal information on prescription pill bottles before disposing of them.
The toilet may seem like a tidy way to get rid of grease, but it congeals in the plumbing just like it does when you pour it down the sink. To prevent a nasty clog, always discard cooking grease in the trash.
As you might have gathered, the toilet should be off-limits to everything except toilet paper and human waste. If someone in your family didn’t get the memo, and now you have a clogged toilet on your hands, contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing at 732-521-0133 for help.