By Scott Ranck
In Florida, water heating is our second largest energy use. The average family will have 14-18% of their energy costs go toward heating water for bathing, clothes washing and dishwashing. The Department of Energy recommends water heaters be set at 120°. That is hot enough for domestic needs and protects from scalding. At 120°, a full penetration scald can still happen after five minutes exposure to the full temperature, so caution is still warranted. At 140° scalding can occur with five seconds of exposure!
To determine what your water heater thermostat is set to, use a cooking thermometer and check the temperature of the hot water at the kitchen sink. If you have an electric water heater, you may need to have a professional make the adjustments because of the danger of electric shock.
On a natural gas water heater, the thermostat is generally exposed, and there is no danger in adjusting your dial. Most dials do not have numbers. There will usually be a highlighted, painted or triangle-shaped raised button to let you know where the 120° setting is. See the picture.
Some newer water heaters including gas tankless have a digital readout, which makes it much easier to adjust. For any questions concerning your water heater, natural gas rebates for water heaters or any other energy related questions, contact your energy experts at Florida Public Utilities at www.fpuc.com/energyexpert.
Scott Ranck is the Conservation Program Coordinator & Energy Specialist for Florida Public Utilities. Feel free to e-mail any energy-related questions or comments to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.