"Running Costs?"

We do save money but knowing what we know now, we would not be without it. Soft water is just so much nicer.

A Good Question but Let Us Look at The Bigger Picture.

Water Softeners do have some running costs. First, you must buy or rent one, then have it installed and then finally you will need to put some salt into it, perhaps some electricity and finally take care of it.

If you read to the end, you will see that even if you add these up, in the life time of owning that machine you will save money.

Saving Money?

Firstly, we know that an Ion Water Softener actually removes the hardness from the water entering your home. Without these minerals, equipment does not get so damaged and appliances do not scale up. 

As the water is soft the existing scale in the system slowly gets removed, taking your home back in time before the damage occurred. No more paying the gas man to descale the boiler or replace taps and shower heads.

Soft Water is a great solvent, meaning it dissolves other chemicals. Your soaps and detergents will now work as designed while using considerably less. Your hand soap will lather and your washing machine will finally leave clothes clean with no residual soap trapped in the fabric. Cleaning is going to get a lot easier.

soft water savings spreadsheet
Typical Family Savings

So we are saving money on shopping and repairs to our homes but what about the running costs?

Water softeners use salt to regenerate, the quantity is based on water consumption and local hardness. AIWSE members will help you choose the most efficient unit and almost certainly it will be metered. Meaning the unit knows when to 'regenerate' based on the water consumed in the home or business.

Salt comes in various types. Block like a house brick, tablets and granules. 

This is normally delivered to you by your water softener company so that you receive the correct product. Different machines work at different efficiencies, just like your car or boiler but if we factor in  between 2 - 8kg of salt a month per average person and that is priced at between £1- £5 per person per month.So for a family of 4 you could enjoy soft water for about £10 per month. A very minimum cost for the pleasure of soft water.

Another cost to consider is the extra water used when the water softener cleans or as we refer to it regenerates. This varies between machines and when choosing a water softener consider the ratio of the capacity of soft water between regenerations to the water used per regeneration. Different machines offer different efficiencies but again an AIWSE member will always be able to answer this and help you choose what is needed.

Some machines also use electricity to regulate themselves but generally this is the equivalent of running an oven clock and makes little difference to the overall running costs. 

Saving The Planet

Another area where a new water softener will save money is helping your hot water production to be efficient. All new boilers and hot water cylinders fitted in the UK must have a scale prevention device fitted under building regulations. When scale forms in your Combi boiler or hot water cylinder, it creates a layer which over the months and years keeps getting thicker. This 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. 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 leaving you with hard water.

An Ion based water softener on the other hand, having removed the hardness minerals will fully protect your hot water system and let it run efficiently for its full life rather than the normal shortened life caused by hard water.


As the writer of this article, I have worked in water treatment since I left school. Customers regularly ask about the savings from having a water softener fitted. I will tell them as I have you and show them the working out. The immediate reaction is disbelief. I ask them when they have time to work it out for me. When people do, they are often shocked to discover that my figures are correct and how much they might save.


After they have had a water softener fitted and I might see them in the future for a salt delivery or service I will ask them about their savings. The stock answer is

We do save money but knowing what we know now, we would not be without it. Soft water is just so much nicer.

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written by

Paul Webb

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