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How To Change The Temperature On Your Electric Water Heater

If you are running out of hot water when taking a shower, you may want to turn the temperature on your electric water heater up. Increasing the temperature on your water heater will increase your electric bill but only in the slightest. For each 10° degrees you go up (meaning hotter), your electricity usage may go up 3% to 5% percent. For each 10° degrees you go down (meaning cooler), your electricity usage may go down 3% to 5% percent. So consider the cost benefits when increasing or decreasing your water heater temperature.

adjust electric water heater temperature

FACT Lowering the thermostat on your hot water heater can save 3-5% operating cost for each 10° degrees lower you go.

Here is how to safely increase or decrease the water temperature on your electric water heater.


  1. Flat screwdriver
  2. Phillips screwdriver
  3. Flashlight
  4. Gloves

Step 1:
For safety, turn off circuit breaker to your water heater and make sure the power is shut off to your water heater before adjusting the temp.

turn off circuit breaker

Step 2:
Remove thermostat/element covers.
(usually 2 covers – one on the top for the top element and one on the bottom for the bottom element.)
After removing the covers, save the screws in a safe place.
Pull out insulation to access the thermostat control.
Don’t touch or move wires.

water heater thermostat

Step 3:
Use a flat tip screwdriver to adjust the top and bottom thermostats to about 120° degrees.
The temperature of 120° degrees is good for most homes however if you are running out of hot water frequently, adjust the temp higher.
For homes that use more hot water, set only the top thermostat 5° to 10° degrees higher.

water temperature safety burns chart

Step 4:
Once you have the temperature settings as needed, replace the insulation.
Next put the top and bottom metal covers back in place with the screws you removed earlier.
Turn power back on to the water heater and enjoy your new water temperature settings.

How to Adjust Hot Water Heater Temperature

How To Reset The Reset Button On a Electric Hot Water Heater

water heater - gas and electric parts identification diagram

Please note: All water heater thermostat settings are approximate. It is best to test the actual temperature of the water the at faucet with a thermometer.

Safety Notes: Never touch a wet water heater for safety reasons. If your water heater is making strange noises here are ways to fix it. If you need to know the correct temperature to set your water heater, here is the info you need.

If water is on the floor leaking from the water heater, shut-off the water and power and find the problem immediately.

What do I do when my water heater is leaking?

If you find that you have a burned or bad thermostat on your electric water heater, here is how to replace the thermostat in your water heater.

If you have an emergency with your water heater leaking, your water heater needs to be shut off immediately, here is how to turn off your water heater step by step.

If you know of any other ways or better methods to safely adjust the water temperature on a water heater, please leave a comment below to assist our other readers.

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4 thoughts on “How To Change The Temperature On Your Electric Water Heater”

  1. NO. At 150 degrees it takes 1 second for serious burn, dangerous !!! You may have another problem if your not getting water that is hot enough.

  2. I have an electric water heater with a thermostat that goes to 150. Can I put heating elements in that go higher than 150?

  3. I found the easiest solution to this problem was to go with a tankless hot water heater.
    My old traditional hot water heater finally bit the dust and, reluctantly, my husband talked me into a tankless unit.
    After reading a ton of reviews I finally found a great one.
    This was spot on and the temperature control is sooo simple.
    I even talked my hubby into buying a remote for the unit.
    Now I know exactly what my temperature is on my water.
    The tankless unit is wonderful.

  4. The water running out of my faucet doesn’t feel hot, even when I turn up the hot water tab all the way. Knowing how to change the temperature of the water coming out of my water heater will help me fix the problem. The first step seems like it would help to prevent any injuries. I always forget that the circuit breaker is connected to my water heater, so I should remember to turn off both the circuit breaker and the power to my house before adjusting my water heater temperature.

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