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How To Adjust The Temperature On A Hot Water Tank

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Nobody likes a cold shower. It’s even worse to get burned when you run hot water heater. Getting the right temperature setting on your water heater is important for your health and safety and for saving money on your electric bill.

Here’s how to adjust the temperature on your water heater to save money and skin.

Be careful – keep the water heater at 120 degrees F.

What Temperature Should The Water Heater Be Set To?

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It turns out that even regular tap water can be dangerous. Every year, several people (mostly children) end up in hospitals with burns caused by water heaters that are too hot. But what does “too high” really mean, and how can homeowners ensure their water heaters are set to a temperature that will keep them from getting burned?

The EPA recommends a heating temperature of 120 degrees F for safety and energy conservation reasons. But it’s not easy to find this setting on the water heater’s temperature setting scale because most scales are not numerically labelled. If the labels on the water heater don’t tell you how to set the temperature and you can’t find the owner’s manual, use the following method:

  1. Run hot water from the nearest water heater faucet for at least three minutes.
  2. Fill a glass and check the temperature of the hot water.
  3. If the water is above 120 degrees, adjust the knob, wait about three hours and check again.
  4. Repeat until you get water at 120 degrees.

Check the water heater temperature the next morning before anyone uses the hot water for a final check. Make a mark on the dial when you find the correct setting, so you don’t have to repeat this checking process.

Adjusting The Water Heater Temperature

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The interface for setting the temperature on a hot water tank varies by type and model. Fortunately, most types of water heaters are set the same way.

For example, the newest gas and electric water heaters have the thermostat behind an insulated access panel. Electric water heaters often have two thermostats, one at the top and one at the bottom of the tank. And most tankless water heaters have a display with temperature readings and controls for adjusting the temperature.

Regardless of the type of water tank, you should test the water before adjusting it. Turn on the water in the tub or kitchen sink and let it run until it is completely hot. Then put a thermometer under the water to get an accurate reading.


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Adjusting a tankless water heater is like adjusting your air conditioner’s thermostat. Use the digital control panel to adjust the temperature up and down as needed.