water heating temperature reduction for energy efficiency
You can reduce your water heating costs by simply lowering the thermostat setting on your water heater. For each 10°F reduction in water temperature, you can save between 3–5% in energy costs.
Although some manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140°F, most households usually only require them set at 120°F or even 115°F. Water heated at 140°F also poses a safety hazard – scalding. However, if you have a dishwasher without a booster heater, it may require a water temperature within a range of 130°F to 140°F for optimum cleaning.
Reducing your water temperature to 120°F also slows mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes. This helps your water heater last longer and operate at its maximum efficiency.
Consult your water heater owner's manual for instructions on how to operate the thermostat. You can find a thermostat dial for a gas storage water heater near the bottom of the tank on the gas valve. Electric water heaters, on the other hand, may have thermostats positioned behind screw-on plates or panels. As a safety precaution, shut off the electricity to the water heater before removing/opening the panels. Keep in mind that an electric water heater may have two thermostats – one each for the upper and lower heating elements.
Mark the beginning temperature and the adjusted temperature on the thermostat dial for future reference. After turning it down, check the water temperature with a thermometer at the tap farthest from the water heater. Thermostat dials are often inaccurate. Several adjustments may be necessary before you get the right temperature.
If you plan to be away from home for at least 3 days, turn the thermostat down to the lowest setting or completely turn off the water heater. To turn off an electric water heater, switch off the circuit breaker to it. For a gas water heater, make sure you know how to safely relight the pilot light before turning it off.