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Dulley's Money-Saving Tip #1011

Don't set your hot water temperature too high

(related Dulley column topic links - 511, 847, 811)

Many households have the hot water temperature set at 140 degrees thinking that it will clean clothes better and disinfect dishes. Actually, it requires water at boiling temperatures for at least 20 minutes to disinfect. No water heater will produce this high temperature safely. Keeping the water too hot just pushes up your utility bills and increases the chances of scalding, especially for children in a bath.

Check the temperature of the hot water at the kitchen faucet with an outdoor thermometer. Let it run for a minute or so to stabilize. The hot water temperature should not be higher than 120 degrees. This is hot enough for all household tasks except automatic dishwashing. Most newer dishwashers have built-in preheaters to bring the water temperature up to the required level, usually about 140 degrees.

Gas water heater temperature is easiest to adjust. The thermostat adjustment is on the outside near the bottom of the tank. To adjust an electric water heater, you have to remove the covers over the heating elements. Always switch off the electric power to the water heater first.