Turn Water Heater Temp Down

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home at 15% or more of your utility bill.  Take a few minutes to lower your water heater temperature setting and you can save both energy and money.

Households: 7 completed, 1 committed
Points ?
Annual Savings
$0 - $0
Upfront Cost
These are estimates

Energy and water savings

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kWh Electricity
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Therms Natural Gas
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Gallons Gas
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Gallons Water
  • Save energy and money
  • Reduce scalding risks
  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

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The Action
We will turn our water heater temperature down to 120 degrees.
Is this action for me?
If you have a water heater dedicated to your home (not shared with other units) this action is for you.  If you rent, check with your landlord before doing this action.
When and Who?
This action can be done any time and most people can do it themselves.
How long will it take?
Quick - just a few minutes.
What is the cost?
There is no cost for this action!


  • Save energy and money

  • Reduce scalding risks

  • Reduce carbon emissions and air pollution

The Basics

Lowering your water heater temperature from 140°F to 120°F is one of the easiest ways to increase your home’s energy efficiency and save money.


Check your dishwasher for a heat booster
Turn the temperature down to 120 degrees

Why 120°F?

Most water heater manufacturers set their temperature to 140°F by default. However, 120°F is generally hot enough and safe for most residential uses.  Water heated to 140°F not only wastes energy, it also poses a serious scalding hazard.  Since water heaters consume 15% or more of your home’s energy bill, you can save money by turning it down to 120°F.   Lowering the temperature will also extend the life of your water heater by slowing corrosion and mineral buildup in your unit and pipes.  

Staying Safe at 120°F

In order to clean and sterilize dishes effectively, dishwashers require a water temperature of 130-140°F.  Most dishwasher models come with built-in heat boosters to raise the heat coming from your water heater and achieve this temperature.  Before you lower your water heater temperature, check your dishwasher manual to make sure your model has a heat booster.  If you can’t find your manual, you can probably find it online if you search with your make and model number.  If your dishwasher model doesn’t have a heat booster, then consider leaving the temperature at 140°F to ensure your dishes are sterilized properly.  

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends that for smaller residential water heaters, a temperature setting of 120°F is safe for most people.  However, if you have a family member that has a compromised immune system or chronic respiratory disease, you can skip this action and keep your water heater temperature at 140°F as an added precaution.  If you keep your water heater at 140°F, consider installing temperature-regulating devices on any faucets used for washing or bathing to avoid scalding risks.

Turn Down to 120°F

Turning down your water heater is easy.  First, check your water heater manual for instructions on how to adjust the temperature on your model.  Some water heater thermostats are not accurate.  To be sure you have the correct temperature, you can test the temperature of your water with a thermometer.  For step by step instructions, check out the Energy.gov guide.