Controlling water temperature is a home-safety issue, as well as a comfort and efficiency issue. Safety takes precedence, as the overwhelming majority of scalding cases that require medical treatment from water coming from a tap, tub, or shower happen right at home. Comfort matters too: The lengthy wait for comfortably hot water on a cold winter day can be an annoyance. The temperature of water also affects efficiency, as higher temperature settings tend to cycle the water heater on and off more often to maintain the temperature, increasing gas consumption and also causing more wear and tear on the heater tank.
Here are some facts about controlling water temperature to enhance safety, comfort, and efficiency:
- The recommended safe upper limit for hot water in a residence is considered to be 120 degrees. If the home includes infants or elderly residents, a lower temperature may enhance safety even more.
- Test the actual water temperature at faucets. Tank thermostats may be imprecise. You’ll get a more accurate measurement of water temperature by using a cooking thermometer to check it at different fixtures around the house, both close to the water heater and far away.
- Check the thermostat setting on a new water heater. New units may come from the factory with thermostat settings that exceed safe levels — as high as 140 degrees, for example. Look at the thermostat dial setting and readjust to a lower, safer temperature (if necessary) before using hot water from the unit.
- Adjust in small increments. When water temperature seems too cold, adjust the heater thermostat setting upward just 5 degrees at a time. After the adjustment, wait 30 minutes, then check the water temperature at various outlets in the home with a thermometer. If it’s still too cold, move the thermostat up another 5 degrees, but do not exceed 120 degrees.
- Reduce system heat loss. Consider installing an insulating blanket on the water heater to cut heat loss and improve efficiency. Also, install slip-on foam-insulating sleeves on all accessible hot-water pipes.
Ask the professionals at Mowery Heating and Cooling for more tips about controlling water temperature.