If you’re looking for an easy way to go green and save money, look no further than your water heater! By lowering your water heater’s temperature from 140 to 120 degrees you could save up to 10 percent on your water heating costs. The best part? You won’t even notice the temperature difference!
Note: While there is a slight risk of promoting Legionellae bacteria growth by lowering your hot water heater’s temperature, 120 degrees is still considered a safe temperature by experts. However, we don’t recommend lowering your water heater’s temperature if you have a suppressed immune system or chronic respiratory disease.
Need a hand? To hire a professional to turn down the temperature on your water heater, visit Angie's List to find a service provider in your area.
Check your dishwasher and washing machine. Before you run to your water heater to turn it down, make sure the lower temperature will not affect the performance of your dishwasher or washing machine. While temperatures under 140 degrees will clean dishes and laundry, they won't disinfect. Check the owner's manuals of these appliances to make sure they can self heat. If you have a dishwasher that was made in the last two years or a front-load washing machine, there's a high chance you're okay to move forward. In addition to checking your owner's manual, take a look at the appliance's settings. If the appliance has a setting for "whitest whites" or "sanitize," it's likely that it can heat the water. If you're washing clothes in a top-load machine or you have an older dishwasher, we recommend that you keep your water heater at 140 degrees.
Locate your water heater. There isn’t a set “spot” for a water heater to be installed, but they are usually located on an exterior wall, near your gas and water supply lines. If you don’t see it there, check any utility closets in your home, your basement and the garage, if you have them. If you can't find your water heater (and you have a tankless heater), you should try and listen for it to turn on and off. (It does so when someone uses hot water.)
Find the heater’s thermostat.The location of your water heater’s thermostat is going to depend on the type of thermostat you have. Electric water heaters typically have thermostats under a metal cover on the side of the tank, while propane water heaters have a knob near the opening to the fire box. Some more modern water heaters (regardless of the type) will have a thermostat that is mounted on the wall or exterior of the tank. If you have trouble finding the thermostat, take a look at your owner’s manual.
Test it out. If you take a shower and realize that you prefer your water to be hotter than 120 degrees, adjust your hot water heater to 125 degrees and test it again. You’ll still save money!