Water Softener Running Costs

Like any appliance, water softeners do of course have some running costs. It’s always worth looking at the bigger picture however as owning a water softener can in fact save you money in the long run.

So how can a water softener save you money?

As we know, a water softener removes the hardness from the water entering your home. Without these minerals, equipment does not get so worn and damaged and appliances do not experience limescale build-up. The great thing about softened water is that it doesn’t just prevent new limescale from forming, but it will also slowly remove the existing scale, taking your home back in time to before the damage occurred. So no more paying your gas man or plumber to descale the boiler or replace taps and shower heads! Soft Water is also a great solvent, meaning it dissolves other chemicals. Your soaps and detergents will now work as they are designed to all whilst using considerably less. Your shower gels and hand soaps will lather and your washing machine will finally leave clothes properly clean with no residual soap trapped in the fabric. Cleaning is certainly going to get a lot easier! All this means that there is money to be saved across the board on your toiletries, cleaning materials and energy bills. You can see the significance of this when you look at the outgoings for the average family:

What are the actual running costs?

Obviously there will be an upfront cost when you purchase or rent your new water softener. You will then need to keep it topped up with salt and have the occasional service to make sure that all is running as it should. Some styles of water softener will also need electricity to run although many models just work using water pressure. 


Depending on the water softener you have, the salt you need will either come in block, tablet or granular form. Your local AIWSE member is often able to deliver the salt that you need directly to you so you will always get great quality and value for money. As with your car or boiler, different water softeners will work at different efficiencies. As a rough rule of thumb however, approximately 2 - 8kg of salt will be used per occupant in the average household. Priced at £2- £6 per person per month, this means that a family of 4 could enjoy soft water for about £12 per month. A small cost when you consider the benefits. The quantity of salt that your water softener will need for regeneration is based on your water consumption and also the hardness of the water entering your home. Unlike timer controlled units, metered water softeners are the most efficient as they will only regenerate when needed. Your local AIWSE member will always be able to give you the best advice on the most efficient water softener for your needs.   


Another cost to consider is the extra water used when the water softener flushes through and cleans the resin beads (the process known as regeneration). This varies between machines is an important consideration when choosing a water softener. You should always look at the ratio of soft water capacity between regenerations to the water used per regeneration. Again, an AIWSE member will always be able to answer this and help you choose what is needed for the most efficient system.


As mentioned, some machines use electricity to regulate themselves. Generally this is the equivalent of running an oven clock however and makes little difference to the overall running costs. 


Even the best equipment needs occasional servicing to keep operating at its best, and your local AIWSE member can offer on-going support to ensure your water softener system stays reliable. How often you have your water softener serviced is really down to personal preference but really every two to three years should be fine.

Environmental savings

Not just saving money, having a water softener installed can also do its bit towards saving the planet. All new boilers and hot water cylinders fitted in the UK must have a scale prevention device fitted under building regulations. When limescale forms in your combi boiler or hot water cylinder, it creates a layer which over the months and years keeps getting thicker. This layer of scale stops the heat getting from the source into the water efficiently. In a year, most houses will see a 1.5mm growth in scale, leading to an increase of 12% in fuel used. This increases daily. Particularly worrying when you look at the vast increases in energy bills in recent years. Unfortunately, due to a lack of enforcement and education, customers often find themselves with a magnet or wire attached to the incoming water main which proposes to protect their new investment. These devices are generally wholly inadequate and do not remove any of the minerals in the water still leaving you with hard water running through your heating system. A water softener on the other hand will fully protect your hot water system, having removed the minerals from the water. This means it will run efficiently for its full life rather than the normal shortened life caused by hard water. Less energy use and longer lasting appliances all play an important role in helping to protect the environment. What’s not to like?

With water softener running costs versus savings (both financial and environmental) it really makes sense to get one installed in your home. Plus once you’ve experienced all the benefits of soft water throughout your home, you will find that it really is worth every penny regardless.

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Paul Webb

Has worked in water treatment, plumbing and construction throughout his career.
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