Few things in life are as pleasant and refreshing as a hot shower, especially after a long day at work or during cold mornings. Sometimes, however, some people tend to be a bit too enthusiastic about the heat of the water and overdo the temperature settings. As a result, pleasurable showers turn into excruciating pain in just a few seconds. It’s even worse in some cases, where the individual who set the water heater temperature too high ends up suffering burns from scalding-hot water.
To prevent hot showers from turning into a scalding nightmare, you need to set your water heater temperature right. The question is, what is the best temperature for your water heater?
Balance between safety and comfort
Water heaters typically come with a default setting, and it would be entirely up to you to adjust that setting according to your preferences. If you have a storage hot water system, the temperature in the tank must be set at an optimum of 60–65°C in order to kill bacteria that thrive in hot water. Heat loss upon passing through mixing valves will then take the temperature of the water down to a manageable or tolerable level of about 50°C or slightly lower. However, if you have one of those instantaneous hot water systems, the temperature should be set to no more than 50°C, which, simply put, strikes the ideal balance between safety and comfort for your hot showers.
Then again, people have varying degrees of tolerance to heat, and some can therefore go above 50 degrees. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that anything beyond 60°C can cause third degree burns in less than six seconds, regardless of your level of heat tolerance. So keep the thermostat dial somewhere close to 50°C, and you’ll be fine.
Finding the best water heater temperature
Still, there is concern that the notches in the thermostat dials of some water heaters might be inaccurate, especially when those notches don’t have numbers. You need to rely on more than just those dial markings to make sure your water is cool enough to avoid scalding, but hot enough for a long, relaxing bath or shower.
To find the recommended temperature of 50°C on an unnumbered dial, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the water at various settings. First, get to the tap that is closest to the water heater and let it run for at least three minutes. Then fill a glass or a bowl with water from that tap and check the temperature with a thermometer. If the thermometer reads above 50 degrees, adjust the dial and wait for at least three hours before checking again. Repeat these steps until you get to 50°C. When you do find the recommended temperature, make a mark on the dial, preferably with a permanent marker or anything that doesn’t fade easily.
It is absolutely important that you get the best temperature for your water heater not only because it’s safe, but it can also help you save on your energy bills. After all, higher than usual water temperatures don’t just scald your skin. They also burn a hole in your pocket.