What Temperature Should a Water Heater Be Set At? | What Temperature to Set Hot Water Heater

What Temperature Should a Water Heater Be?

The household water heater is one of the greatest conveniences. It wasn't too long ago that the best method for bathing was in a cold stream unless you were some sort of prince. Fast forward a couple of centuries, and even paupers enjoy hot showers. We have modern plumbing, specifically water heaters, to thank for that.

To be a responsible homeowner, you want to make sure that you are using appliances in safe, efficient, and effective ways. That begs the question, what temperature should a water heater be set at?

Recommended Water Heater Temperature Setting

shower water with the perfect temperature

For safety's sake, it's highly recommended that you set the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything hotter than that is running the risk of causing burning. For example, at 130 degrees Fahrenheit, somebody washing their hands can suffer burns in just seconds. According to Bradford White, here is the average relationship between time, temperature, and scalding:

  • 120°F - More than 5 minutes
  • 125°F - 1-1/2 to 2 minutes
  • 130°F - About 30 seconds
  • 135°F - About 10 seconds
  • 140°F - Less than 5 seconds
  • 145°F - Less than 3 seconds
  • 150°F - About 1-1/2 seconds
  • 155°F - About 1 second

Setting the temperature below 120 is doable if piping hot water is not a priority to you, but most people like the option of having a super hot shower.

Adjusting the Temperature

Now that you know what temperature to set the hot water heater at, you can read up on how to adjust it. It's straightforward to do if you have a gas water heater. Electric installations require a little more effort to change the temperature.


Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees. It should be that simple. It's possible that your water heater does not give you a temperature option; it may just have a dial that turns to hot. Consult the user's manual to see what they recommend. If you have any more questions, please consult our help resources here or contact us directly via chat, email, or good old-fashioned phone.

Related resources:
How to Reset a Water Heater
How to Light a Hot Water Heater
How to Turn Off a Water Heater
How to Turn on Water Heater
Draining the Water Heater
How to Turn Up Water Heater

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