Lower Your Bills By Lowering Your Water Temperature

Lowering Bills by Lowering Your Water Heater Temperature

March 9, 2017

When it comes to saving energy and reducing your household utility bills, lowering your water heater temperature can help. Most water heater manufacturers have the thermostat set at a default temperature of 140 degrees. A water temperature this high results in energy losses and poses a safety risk to vulnerable members of your household. With the exception of situations such as a dishwasher without an internal heater, households maintaining a water heater setting of 120 degrees are more efficient and safe than hotter settings.

Why to Reduce the Temperature of Your Water Heater

By reducing the temperature 20 degrees, you can cut the appliance's energy consumption as much as 10 percent. When you consider that hot water heating accounts for up to 25 percent of the total energy usage in most households, it's easy to see how lowering the temperature can provide significant cost savings.

How to Reduce the Temperature of Your Water Heater

Turn off the electricity to your water heater (if it's not a gas model). Use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the hot water exiting the faucets or other hot water devices both closest and farthest from your water heater; water nearest to the heater will be the hottest but will cool significantly while traveling through pipes to reach distant locations.

Mark the beginning setting on your water heater's thermostat, then adjust the temperature setting up or down to meet the needs of your household. You want to provide your most distant hot water location sufficiently hot water without the closest device presenting a scalding hazard. In a home with small children, water of 120 degrees at the closest hot water device and 115 degrees in a distant bathroom is a good choice.

Reconnect the power to your water heater and wait several hours, then recheck the water temperature. Adjust the settings as needed to achieve the temperature desired. Mark the new thermostat setting.

Understanding Your Water Heater's Energy Consumption

A temperature set too high will not only cost you money but places household members at risk for scalding; learning how to properly adjust your water heater's thermostat will save money and protect your family.

If you have a storage tank water heater like most American homes, there are a few reasons why it uses such a large amount of energy.

Each time you turn on a hot water faucet in your home and water is drawn out of the tank, cold water that's about 50 degrees gets drawn in to replace it. This colder water dilutes the hot water that remains in the tank, so the whole tank full must be reheated to the temperature setting on the appliance's thermostat.

Some energy is wasted due to heat loss that occurs by transference through the sides, top and bottom of the tank itself.

A tank-style water heater consumes energy even when you're not using hot water, because the unit's gas burner or electric elements have to cycle on repeatedly to keep the water inside at the thermostat's temperature setting.

Adjusting Your Water Heater Temperature Isn't Difficult

If you have a gas water heater, adjusting the temperature setting is easy: simply locate the thermostat dial found on the gas valve and turn it back to 120 degrees. On an electric model, you'll need to shut off the heater's circuit breaker first. Then, remove the thermostat's cover panel on the side of the tank and turn the dial toward "lower" until it's at 120 degrees. If your tank has two panels, you'll need to remove both and make two setting adjustments.

For more advice about lowering the water heater temperature in your Des Moines-area home, contact us today at Lozier Heating & Cooling.

Maintaining Your Water Heater

You probably take your home's storage tank water heater for granted, since it does its work quietly and is housed out of the way, but yearly maintenance can make your water heater last longer and work better. Consult the appliance manual, if you have one. If you don't, you may want to get one from the manufacturer or online. You may feel more comfortable scheduling a skilled professional to do it.

Check the pressure relief valve. This valve displays as a small handle at the top of the discharge pipe that is positioned vertically on the outside of the tank. If you have a problem locating the valve and pipe, check the manual. If this part isn't working properly, it can lead to - in the worst-case scenario - an explosion. Though rare, this is a very good reason to get your water heater checked annually.

How to check the pressure relief valve:

  • Put a bucket under the pipe and lift the lever.
  • Water should come out of the pipe into the bucket.
  • If it doesn't, the valve needs to be replaced. You may want to contact a plumbing professional if the valve is broken.

Drain sediment

Sediment in the water will settle to the bottom of the water heater tank. Sediment build-up can affect the efficiency of your water heater and shorten its useful life, so sediment should be drained at least once a year, whether you do it yourself or have a professional do it. To drain sediment, try the following:

  • Close the shutoff valve on the cold water supply pipe going into the water heater.
  • Turn on hot water from any faucet in your house to release pressure in the water heater and leave it running until you're done with this water heater maintenance.
  • Turn off the water heater, either by turning off the power at the main electric panel for electric water heaters or by turning the gas off for gas water heaters.
  • Drain the tank of water with sediment, letting the water run out into the bucket until it's clear of sediment. Note: Be careful of the draining water - it will be hot.

Need Help? Call Lozier Heating and Cooling!

Do you need a little bit of help with your water heater? Call our expert technicians for the help you need!