Lime in your washing machine, kettle or coffee maker, tight skin after showering, stains on the bathroom walls, teacups and the car after washing; these are all signs that you live in an area with hard water. You can avoid these problems by buying a water softener. These devices will soften all the water you use, eliminating the above problems. Water softeners are usually divided into two groups, electronic and mechanical water softeners.
What is an electronic water softener?
An electronic water softener softens your water with filters filled with resin granules. This resin removes magnesium and lime from your water and if you purchased a softener that can handle your water use, you can do this for all the water you use. The filters are cleaned with salt every once in a while. Electronic water softeners do this automatically and on demand. There are a number of programs that you can configure, and you can often choose how soft you’d like the water to be. As electronic water softeners only soften your water when you really need it, they never use too much salt or too much water.
An electronic water softener is more expensive than a mechanical water softener. The latter type only softens the water when yo tell it to. This can mean that you sometimes soften too much or too little water. Electronic water softeners may cost more, but are more efficient in the salt they use. In addition to buying the appliance, you’ll also have to pay installation costs, regularly refill the cleaning salt, and you can opt for having the appliance serviced annually. The following table clearly shows these costs.
|Electronic water softener||From $775|
|Mechanical water softener||From $600|
|Salt||$20 per 50 kilo|
|Maintenance contract||From $90 annually|
|Installation costs||From $195|
A small household: if your household does not consist of more than two people, you can soften all your water with a small electronic water softener. You’ll be set for $980 plus installation costs. If you don’t want a maintenance contract, which you don’t really need if you consume small amounts of water, this is the cheapest option.
An average household: if you have a maximum of 4 people, it’s important you choose an electric water softener that can also handle your needs. This often means a larger and more expensive machine. You’ll also use more salt because the filters need to be cleaned more often.
A large household: A house with 5 or more people need a large appliance, preferably with two filters, allowing you to have soft water even if one of them is being cleaned. It might also be a good idea to have the machine properly maintained with this kind of heavy use to ensure that you’re always provided with salt and can enjoy soft water for as long as possible.
The price structure
As refilling and maintenance are costs that have to be paid regularly, we’ll only consider the initial purchase. You pay $980 for a small machine and about $245 for installation costs. The bigger the machine, the higher the costs. The ratio will remain the same, the materials take up 80 percent of the costs and the installation 20 percent. Since the materials account for a considerable part of the total price, this is where you can make savings. By installing the machine yourself, you’ll be able to get 20 percent off the total price, but by studying the market carefully for offers and bargains, you might be able to save more. The following diagram shows this ratio.
Choices that affect the price
When purchasing a water softener, you’ll be faced with a number of choices that may have a positive or negative impact on the price. In addition, there are factors that you cannot avoid, such as your water consumption, that also have an impact on the price. Here you’ll find the biggest ones.
Number of filters
If you have to supply a large household with water, you can benefit from a water softener with two filters. This will also give you soft water if one of them is being cleaned at that time. Obviously, these are more expensive.
Maintenance contract or no maintenance contract
A maintenance contract can extend the service life of the water softener. But you can also do this yourself. You can buy a water test for $11, lubricating the moving parts is easy, as is cleaning the machine. The salt can easily be refilled. However, if you don’t want to worry about this, a maintenance contract is a suitable option.
New or second-hand
If you watch the second-hand market closely, you can sometimes buy a good second-hand water softener for a fraction of the price. You can then have this installed by a technician. A newer appliance will have a longer lifespan but will cost more as well.
Interesting savings tips
The purchase of a new water softener will bring many advantages, but you’ll have to pay these costs first. Here are two tips on how to keep this low.
- Find your water softener locally: this will save you on call-out costs or you can avoid them completely. It makes a big difference if you have a supplier and installer nearby.
- Do it yourself: if you are an experienced DIY enthusiast, you can consider installing your own water softener. This does require some knowledge of the water supply system. Or you might only want to do the maintenance yourself.
The best way to save money is by comparing quotations. The cost of the water softener takes up 80 percent of the total price, meaning that proper research will save you money. Our comparison tool can provide you with a number of non-binding quotations free of charge. So you can start planning for your new water softener here.