Many people have no idea that one of the largest energy-using appliances in the home is the water heater. If you want to lower your energy costs, your water heater may be a good starting point. However, if you think that simply dialing back the temperature a few degrees is the right option, keep reading for the facts about what this can do.
Setting the Temperature Too Low Could Cause Problems
Yes, turning the temperature down on your hot water heater could help reduce energy use but it could backfire too. If the temperature is too low then you could end up with dangerous bacteria in it. This is why the Department of Energy recommends that the temperature of a water heater should be set no lower than 120F. This is the present temp in most new water heaters.
This temperature can kill pathogens but other agencies recommend that 140F is a better option because it can kill off pathogens more quickly. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends this higher temp for water heaters. You could set it at 120F to be in the safe zone but homes with immune-compromised people may choose to set it closer to 140F.
Setting the Temperature Too High Can Cause Problems Too
It would seem that if a person is particularly worried about bacteria that they should raise the temperature to even more than 140F. They should rethink this option. Consider that at 140F, you only need to be in contact with water for five seconds before getting a third-degree burn – the most serious type of burn. It takes several seconds for the water to get through the pipes and out the showerhead so water that’s hotter than this can scald in a second.
Children are particularly at risk of being burned because their skin is thinner than the skin of an average adult. The elderly also have reduced sensitivity so they may not notice the heat as quickly, and their reduced mobility and reaction times can also make it harder to do something once they realize that the water is dangerously hot.
Better Ways to Lower Hot Water Bills
A better option to reduce your energy usage related to hot water is to use less hot water. This means fewer showers and using the dishwasher instead of handwashing. You can also have your pipes and hot water heater insulated or even replace your water heater with a more energy-efficient option. If you need help with any of these money-saving options we strongly recommend you contact High Speed Plumbing at 1-888-958-1394 for help with an experienced plumber.