A study in America highlights that a domestic water softener is one of the very highest energy saving and best "Green" technology appliances that a householder can own. Results of the study demonstrate that untreated hard water can cause significant efficiency losses and added costs in water heating - up to 24% in some cases.
With hot water needs accounting for between 14% and 25% of the energy consumed in the home, the aspect of water quality has been scrutinised as never before in the drive to improve the performance and the "green" credentials of water using appliances. The Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, was retained by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) to develop and run tests to determine how much water softeners can contribute to energy savings. The independent Battelle Institute (somewhat similar to the "Which" organisation in the UK), evaluated the energy and costs in heating hard water versus the savings with softened water. They also examined effects on washing machines, tap fixtures, showerheads, and dishwashers using hard water compared with softened water coming from a water softener.
Most hot water heaters went through a 15 year accelerated life cycle to provide the data needed. Several types were used and many instantaneous heaters had to be descaled regularly throughout the testing period. Dishwashers and washing machines also became heavily fouled within very short periods.
In addition to the considerable costs, Battelle also found that hard water rapidly clogged showerheads. According to laboratory results, after just one week of constant testing with hard water, more than 75% of showerhead nozzles became blocked.
Throughout the testing, all appliances and fixtures using softened water, performed nearly as well as on the day they were first installed. In some cases it was forecast that payback time with a water softener due to energy and descaling costs savings to be 1 year - which is quite amazing.
A further report is due shortly covering the effects of hard water on laundry and cleaning products.