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Hot Water Heater Thermostat: Controlling Comfort and Efficiency

May 17, 2023
Illustration of an energy-efficient water heater thermostat showing temperature control for optimal comfort.

The thermostat on the water heater is a small but important tool that plays role in maintaining the desired water temperature . It ensures both comfort and energy efficiency by regulating the heating process. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of the following:

  1. the water heater thermostat,
  2. its functions,
  3. how it contributes to overall performance.

Understanding the Water Heater Thermostat

The thermostat in a water heater is responsible for monitoring and controlling the temperature of the water within the tank. A temperature sensor and a control mechanism maintain the desired water temperature by activating or deactivating the heating elements.

Functions of the Water Heater Thermostat

  1. Temperature Monitoring: The primary function of the thermostat is to monitor the water temperature inside the tank. It constantly senses the temperature and sends signals to the control mechanism based on the preset temperature setting.
  2. Temperature Adjustment: The thermostat allows users to adjust the desired temperature of the water. This feature provides flexibility, enabling homeowners to set the water temperature according to their preferences and specific needs.
  3. Heat Activation and Deactivation : the thermostat controls the activation and deactivation of the heating elements in the water heater. When the temperature falls below the set point, the thermostat signals the heating elements to activate and warm the water. Once the desired temperature is reached, the thermostat shuts off the heating elements to maintain the set temperature.
  4. Safety Features: Modern water heater thermostats often incorporate safety features to prevent overheating. Some thermostats have a limit switch that shuts off the heating elements if the water temperature goes over a certain level. It protects it against potential damage or scalding.

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings

The water heater thermostat plays a significant role in achieving energy efficiency and cost savings. Here’s how:

  1. Optimal Temperature Setting: Adjusting the water temperature helps maintain the water at the desired level without unnecessary overheating. Setting the temperature to an appropriate level can save energy and reduce utility costs.
  2. Timed Heating Cycles: Some advanced thermostats offer programmable features that allow users to schedule specific heating cycles. For example, you can program the thermostat to activate the heating elements during off-peak hours when electricity rates are lower. This strategy can result in significant energy savings over time.
  3. Temperature Maintenance: The thermostat’s ability to maintain the set temperature without constant heating reduces energy consumption. Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the thermostat stops the heating elements from operating, preventing unnecessary energy usage.

Maintaining and Adjusting the Water Heater Thermostat

To ensure optimal performance, it is important to occasionally check and maintain the water heater thermostat. Here are some tips:

  1. Thermostat Calibration: Over time, thermostats may become less accurate. If you suspect your thermostat is not properly calibrated, consult the instructions to adjust it accordingly or seek professional assistance.
  2. Temperature Testing: Use a reliable thermometer to check the accuracy of the thermostat’s temperature readings. Compare the temperature reading on the thermostat to the thermometer’s reading at the faucet.
  3. Considerations for Different Water Heater Types: The process of adjusting the thermostat may vary depending on the type of water heater. Electric water heaters usually have visible thermostats on the side or top of the tank. Gas water heaters typically have a control valve on the gas control assembly.


The water heater thermostat plays a important role in maintaining the desired temperature of the water in your home. It also ensures energy efficiency and cost savings. By monitoring and controlling the water temperature, the thermostat provides comfort and peace of mind. Regular maintenance and periodic temperature adjustments can help

Representation of Corro-Protec powered titanium anode rod
Representation of Corro-Protec powered titanium anode rod
Representation of Corro-Protec powered titanium anode rod
Representation of Corro-Protec powered titanium anode rod
Representation of Corro-Protec powered titanium anode rod

Know what temperature setting is best for you?

Every hot water tank has different panels that allow you to change set the temperature of your tank. Most of the panels are similar and even located in the same general areas no matter what type of water heater you have. Most electric water heaters have two thermostats (top and bottom).

If you have adjusted the hot water heater temperature and you don’t see any difference, the problem may be somewhere else.

An older tank could be less efficient due to the build-up of lime on the heating elements. To avoid this situation, we always advise our customers to install a Corro-Protec powered anode.

In addition to preventing corrosion in the tank, Corro-Protec reduces limescale build-up in the tank and ensures good long-term operation.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general DIY guidance on water heater maintenance and does not replace professional advice or service. Risks include electric shocks, burns, and property damage. Prioritize safety, follow manufacturer’s guidelines, and consult with professionals if unsure. Comply with local laws and obtain necessary permits. Use this information at your own risk; the provider assumes no liability for any injuries or damages. If in doubt, hire a professional.


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