What and how to adjust the electric hot water heater temperature settings?

Electric hot water heater temperature settings

Do you think that the temperature of your water is too hot or not at all hot enough?

Well, it turns out that there are a couple of different settings on an electric water heater and they can be changed to suit your personal preference.

No one likes a cold shower, but what temperature is the best for your electric hot water heater? This blog post covers everything you need to know about electric hot water heater temperature settings.

The correct temperature range

The temperature range for an electric hot water heater varies between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

The optimal temperature for your water heater should be 132 degrees F. This is a comfortable temperature that won’t scald you accidentally, but will also remove any microbial contaminants that may have seeped into the tank.

While this might seem like a narrow margin of error, remember that individual preferences can vary greatly – as can local regulations. For some people, 130°F feels just right, while others need 140°F to feel satisfied with their shower; everyone’s needs are different!

Speaking of regulations, they can often be found in the state building code or plumbing code. Sometimes these codes are enforced by city government officials such as a building inspector or health department officer.

The temperature of your water heater, as well as the flow and pressure in your plumbing system, should be checked to ensure they are up to code when you purchase a new home.

If the previous owners did not abide by these codes, you should change the temperature settings on your hot water heater to meet current regulations.

Adjusting water heater temperature settings

Unfortunately, manufacturers of electric water heaters do not include settings for adjusting the temperature on their units. Instead, this is accomplished by changing the temperature dial or switch to a different setting.

A common solution is to lower the setting one notch from where it currently is set at – typically from “Hot” to “Warm”. Some people find that they need to go even lower than Warm (or sometimes Hot) to adjust the water heater temperature properly for them.

Tankless electric hot water heaters

While most electric hot water tank models come with a built-in thermostat that cannot be adjusted, tankless units can sometimes be customized depending on the manufacturer.

Conventional electric water heater temperature setting adjustments typically involve the red wire and the blue wire in your home’s electrical box. In some cases, you might need to turn off the circuit breaker before making these modifications to avoid an electrical mishap.

It is important to pay attention to detail during this process as an accidental shock could result in serious injury or even death!

The red wire is designed to transmit power once it is connected properly.

In most cases, there will be a small “L” shaped attached to the terminal screw which serves as a reminder to remove this plastic connector before turning on the breaker switch.

The blue wire is the “load” wire that sends voltage back down to your water heater once it has been turned off.

Before you can touch these wires, make sure that you know what you are doing and have a system in place for preventing shock

The wires are typically color-coded, but it is wise to check the wire arrangement before you proceed.

Using an electrical tester or multi-meter can be helpful when determining which terminal screw sends power to the red wire and which one allows voltage to return via the blue wire. Unlike a conventional water heater thermostat that just clicks on and off, you will need to use the “Load” wire method to adjust the temperature of a tankless water heater.

This can be somewhat confusing as most manufacturers recommend that you keep loads in your home (such as a refrigerator or dishwasher) on the load side of the breaker switch and appliances that are not running on the “line” side of the breaker.

After you have determined which wire functions as the load wire, use your electrical tester to determine that power is no longer being transmitted before you touch it or any other wires.

Once confirmed, make sure that both terminal screws are tight before turning on the switch for your hot water tank. While some people will suggest replacing the red wire connector with a switch or receptacle, this is not recommended as it could lead to a greater risk of injury.

The new water heater temperature setting should be marked on the dial or switch and you may need to try several settings before finding the correct one for your household needs. Once you have established the right flow rate and water pressure, check the water temperature with a thermometer.

How To Check Your Water Heater Temperature

In case you are not sure whether the hot water temperature set to your unit is in line with contemporary standards or that of your household, a thermometer will be helpful.

The final setting for electric tankless units is between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. You can purchase a candy or meat thermometer at most grocery stores which should be sufficient.

Electric units with a tank will typically reach the maximum temperature when set at “H” and minimum at “L.” This is important to know as most tankless heaters will not reach their full potential unless you turn up the dial on the hot water tank itself.

Solutions to Common Hot Water Tank Problems

Electric tankless water heaters are considered to be more energy-efficient than their conventional counterparts. That said, there are still times when issues will arise.

For example, if the unit is not getting power or voltage it may help to simply check your breaker panel for any tripped switches and filters that might need to be cleaned or replaced.

Many people are under the impression that these units serve as a power generator and will cause your power bill to skyrocket but this is simply not true. An electric tankless heater can actually reduce your energy usage by 20 percent or more.

3 solutions to overcome these problems

  • Replace the fuse or reset the breaker if it has tripped. You may need to consult your manual for more information specific to your unit. If this doesn’t work, you might want to call a specialist as there could be something wrong with the heater itself.
  • Make sure that all water filters are in place and there aren’t any leaks around the unit or in your plumbing. If you can tighten these connections and all wiring is intact, there’s a good chance that resetting your breaker switch will get the water heater working again.
  • If power is present but no voltage is being transmitted, check your wire connections for loose screws or faulty wiring. This may require a specialist. If all circuits are good but the unit is not heating your water, you might have an issue with your thermostat and need to get it replaced or adjusted accordingly.

Gas or electric water heaters

Gas or electric water heaters have a limited lifespan of 10 to 15 years. If you are wondering whether to repair or replace your water heater, consider these factors:

The age of the water heater: Replacing an electric water heater more than 10 years old and gas water heaters more than 15 years old is usually cost-effective. But if you have an energy-efficient water heater that is just 10 years old, it may be worth your while to have it repaired.

Replacing an electric water heater more than 10 years old and gas water heaters more than 15 years old is usually cost-effective. But if you have an energy-efficient water heater that is just 10 years old, it may be worth your while to have it repaired. The type of water heater: Repairs are usually the most cost-effective choice for electric water heaters, which are more expensive than gas models when new.

Gas units, on the other hand, can be cost-effective to replace even if they’re only 10 years old because they last longer and often carry extended warranties for parts and labor.

Factors That Affect Water Temperature

  1. A relatively new type of water heater for both gas and electric models uses an electronic ignition system instead of a standing pilot light. This change improves energy efficiency, but it requires that the water heater be connected to a 240-volt circuit. If your home doesn’t have this capability, an electric water heater won’t be cost-effective.
  2. The temperature of the water heater: High-temperature models heat water more quickly, which saves energy but costs more to buy and install.
  3. High-temperature models heat water more quickly, which saves energy but costs more to buy and install. If you don’t have a large family or like to take long showers, consider a low-temperature model.
  4. The size of your household: The larger the household, the more gallons per minute (GPM) you’ll need to take multiple showers and do laundry. A 40-gallon electric or 50-gallon gas water heater is sufficient for most households. But if your household consists of four people or more, you’d be better off with a 60-gallon or larger heater.
  5. The cost of electricity and natural gas: The price per therm in your local area affects the cost-effectiveness of electric versus gas water heaters. If electricity is more expensive than gas where you live, an electric water heater may be a good investment. To find the cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity in your area, visit the Web site for your local utility or call its customer service department.

Tips for Boosting Performance & Efficiency

  • Take shorter showers. Water heating accounts for about 90% of the energy consumed by a typical gas water heater, and 70% of an electric unit’s energy use. Shorter showers will save you money on your utility bills and extend the life of your water heater.
  • Seal leaks in the hot-water pipes leading to your water heater with outdoor caulk. Leaks waste energy and cut water heater life.
  • Insulate your water heater’s hot-water pipes to reduce heat loss, thereby saving energy and money. Wrap the pipes with fiberglass self-sticking pipe insulation or use pipe sleeves available at hardware stores.
  • Repair or replace any corroded parts in the tank water heater’s internal plumbing. An electric water heater can be damaged by a defective thermostat, so have a professional check your unit if this control seems to cause problems.
  • Properly size your new water heater by first measuring the number of hot-water outlets for which you need to provide supply lines and then consulting the sizing chart on the Energy Guide label. The sizing chart on the Energy Guide label is accurate for large, storage-type 75-gallon or larger heaters with thermostats located at least 12 inches above the tank bottom and smaller 50-gallon units installed in a vertical position.

How Much Are Your Gas and Electric Hot Water Heater Temperature Settings Costing You?

It may seem like a relatively minor factor when compared with the various other savings you can make around your home, but your hot water heater temperature setting is one of the biggest factors in determining how much energy each hour it runs is costing you.

The problem is that most households have their hot water thermostats locked into settings that are far too high for the majority of their hot water usage. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense.

When you use hot water to shower, clean dishes, or wash your hands, you want that water to be as warm as possible because who wants to be washing in cold water?

But when a household uses its hot water daily for these kinds of tasks and then preheats even more water with the thermostat set on a higher temperature for other, less-frequent uses such as dishwashing or showering, the amount of standby heat loss from the tank increases to unacceptably wasteful levels.

A typical electric hot water tank will lose about 20% of its stored heat every hour it’s on standby when the thermostat is set to 140°F. If you have your water heater set to that temperature, for example, then after an hour of being turned off your tank has already lost 20% of its stored heat.

By comparison, if you had your thermostat set at 120 degrees F instead, then the tank would only lose 8% of its stored heat during one-hour discontinuation.

The best solution to this problem is to turn down your electric hot water heater’s thermostat and raise it back up to 120 degrees F or even more ideally set it at 110°F. After all, why should you be paying for hot water when you’re not using it?

Thinking about upgrading to a tankless water heater?

Here are the pros and cons:

  • You’ll never run out of hot water: With a tankless system, you can get unlimited hot water. It’s there when you need it, and absent when you don’t.
  • They’re more efficient: Tankless heaters are 60-80% efficient; traditional tanks are only 40-60% efficient because most of the energy they use is lost as standby heat.
  • They’re easy to install: A tankless unit can be installed where your current tank sits. You may need to upgrade your breaker box, but otherwise, it’s a straightforward replacement with the same connections and hookups.
  • They don’t take up much space: Tankless heaters are compact appliances that usually fit in the same space as a traditional water heater.
  • There is occasional demand: If you need to run multiple appliances at once, such as a dishwasher and clothes washer or an instant hot-water faucet and a power shower, your tankless system could shut down temporarily until the demand decreases.
  • They cost more upfront: Although the price has come down in recent years, a tankless water heater is still going to cost more upfront than a traditional system.
  • They’re pricey to repair: If something goes wrong with your tankless unit, it can be expensive to get it fixed. A traditional water heater is usually cheaper to maintain or replace if necessary.
  • If you’re considering a tankless system, be sure to include your hot water usage habits and patterns when making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 150 Too Hot For A Water Heater?

150 degrees is the upper limit for a standard household water heater. If you had your tank set at that temperature, it would be losing 20% of its stored heat every hour while on standby and 10% during use (compared to 8%/4% at 120).

What Is The Maximum Temperature For A Water Heater?

There is no upper limit for a water heater, although you’ll need to find out what your state’s maximum allowable temperature setting is.

Why Is My Water So Hot?

If you have hard water, the calcium and magnesium it contains can build up on the heating elements in your tank. As a result, the hot water may seem hotter than usual. In that case, you should consider using a water softener to reduce scale buildup.


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