Water softeners can save significant amounts of money and energy in the home, a major new study by the independent Battelle Institute revealed. Softeners help preserve the efficiency of water heaters and major appliances and keep showers and faucets unclogged, the report found. The study was commissioned by the Water Quality Research Foundation (WQRF) in 2009. Battelle Memorial Institute is a renowned independent testing and research facility dedicated to applied science and technology development.
Among some of the key findings of the study:
Gas & Electric water heaters: Gas & Electric storage tank household water heaters operated on softened water maintained the original factory efficiency rating over a 15-year lifetime. On the other hand, hard water can lead to as much as a 48% loss of efficiency in water heaters. Up to 30 pounds of calcium carbonate rocklike scale can accumulate in these heaters over time, according to the study. The life of the heating element will be shortened due to scale buildup because of increased operating temperature of the heating element. Such scale adversely affects the water heater’s performance.
Tank-less heaters: Indoor instantaneous gas water heaters (tankless heaters) operated on softened water maintained the original factory efficiency rating over a 15-year lifetime. The study found that tankless water heaters completely failed to function because of scale plugging in the downstream plumbing after only 1.6 years of equivalent hot water use on 26 gpg hard water. Softened water saves 34% of costs compared to operating on 20 grains per gallon (gpg) and saves 47% compared to operation on 30 gpg hard water.
Showerheads and faucets: Showerheads on soft water maintained a brilliant luster and full flow. Faucets on softened water performed well throughout the study; nearly as well as the day they were installed. Showerheads on hard water lost 75% of the flow rate in less than 18 months. Faucets on hard water could not maintain the specified 1.25 gallons per minute flow rate because of scale collection of the strainers. The strainers on the faucets using un-softened water were almost completely plugged after 19 equivalent days of testing.
Appliances: In the study, dishwashers and washing machines were operated for 30 days and 240 completed wash cycles on soft and hard water sources. The units using soft water were almost completely free of any water scale buildup. As the report states, they appeared as if they could be cleaned up to look like new with just a quick wipe down. The appearance of the inside of units using hard water showed the need for de-liming and cleaning due to the buildup of scale and deposits.
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Study Source – Water Quality Association (WQA)