By now you’ve probably heard that hard water isn’t a good thing. It can leave spots on your glassware, make clothes appear dingy and feel rough, and leave deposits on shower walls, sinks and toilets. But did you know that hard water can raise not only energy costs but detergent usage as well?
According to research at New Mexico State University, hard water increases energy consumption of your household appliances. The study measured the energy usage of 6 residential water heaters – both gas and electric – and found that the electric heaters used 21% less energy and gas heaters used 29% less energy when operated on softened water.
What Makes Water Hard and How Can You Soften It?
Hard water contains calcium and magnesium ions in the form of salts, sulfates and carbonates. All of these cause your water to be hard.
To soften your water, consider buying or renting a certified water softening system which can be connected to your home’s water lines. Through a process of ion exchange, the system forces water over a bed of softening material, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads. The unwanted minerals in the water attach themselves to the beads at the same time as sodium ions are released into the water.
When the beads become full of the unwanted minerals, the softening system rinses them with dissolved salt. This salt scours all of the deposits from the beads so they can once again remove unwanted materials.
Water softeners are also able to remove most heavy metals as well, but should require dirt or chemicals to be removed, you would need to involve a water filtration system which is different.
How Do You Select the Right Water Softener System?
If you need help deciding which water softening system will work best for your situation and budget, check out the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) website. This non-profit organization uses a gold seal certification process and awards products which have passed rigorous testing.
Another Benefit of Soft Water
According to two different independent studies, consumers cut back on laundry detergent use by more than 50% just by using soft water. Not only that, they were able to lower their washing machine temperatures from a hot setting to a cold one. Softer water also meant easier stain removal which means shorter wash cycles.
Another study done on dish washers saw similar results. Softer water lessened spotting and filming and also required far less detergent used.
Other Benefits of Soft Water
Beyond lower energy consumption and detergent use, soft water is better for your skin and scalp as excess water is rinsed better. Soft water is also easier on your home’s plumbing system. Hard water leaves mineral deposit buildup in your pipes which, over time, can cause clogs and other damage.
And, soft water just tastes better! Without all those nasty minerals, water has a better taste which means your coffee and tea drinks will also taste better.
Life doesn’t have to be hard. And neither does your water. Consider installing a water softening system in your own house and reap the rewards.
Categories: Energy Efficiency