We talk a lot about the damage hard water can cause to your home, but it’s often difficult to comprehend the real trouble those hard water minerals are making. When you run the numbers, it suddenly becomes crystal-clear. Soft water doesn’t just save you time and elbow grease. Its perks can also save you cold, hard cash.
Soap & Detergent Savings
One of first things people tend to notice with soft water is that they can cut back on their soap usage. Even with half the amount of laundry detergent, they still get a clean load of laundry. It’s all because soft water works better for cleaning. Once those “hard” calcium and magnesium minerals are removed, your tap water gets a whole lot easier to work with.
We estimate big savings on soap with soft water. Half usage on soap, shampoo and conditioner, laundry detergent, and dishwasher detergent goes a long way. For the average home, that can be savings of up to $220 every year!
That’s $20 instead of $40 for liquid dish soap and detergent, and at least $50 for laundry. If you’re doing 5 loads per week, you can make that 150 fluid ounce jug stretch for about 5 months with soft water. At around $15 each, now you’ll only need $50 for laundry detergent every year. You’ll feel really good about your soft water when you add in those shampoo and body care savings. Depending on what products your family uses, you could start pocketing another $15-$150.
Water Heater Savings
Energy bills can run high for many homeowners, and hot water is often the second largest energy expense. With most estimates around 18% of the total energy, it’s no wonder that an efficient water heater can save big bucks throughout the year.
Unfortunately, even if you have a new, efficient unit, it’s not going to last long if you use hard water. Hard mineral scale can build up in the water heater and cause it to wear down fast. That’s why a lot of homeowners chose to protect their water-using appliances with soft water. In fact, water heaters that work with a water softener typically last about 50% longer than those that have to work with hard water.
According to the Home Advisor website, the average homeowner will spend up to $1,200 on a new water heater install. That number only rises if you’re looking at a tankless unit—up to $3,000. With a typically lifespan of 10-12 years, getting a water heater to last longer and work more efficiently with soft water can save families $100-$300 every time they get another year out of their unit. (Not to mention all the cash they save by eliminating energy waste!)
As one of the primary uses for hot water, our laundry room also sees some massive benefits by switching to soft water. The detergent savings alone are a nice chunk of change, but what about those energy savings? Soft water doesn’t require high temperatures to get that deep clean in your clothes. Research has shown that water hardness alone is one of the biggest setbacks
Other research shows that soft water is up to 100 times better at stain removal than using hot water alone or just upping the detergent dose. While it can be difficult to calculate the exact savings (it all depends on your type of machine and its efficiency), we think it’s safe to say you can ballpark some $200 every year—just for the energy costs to cold water. (Check out this laundry savings article for a closer look at those numbers.)
Don’t forget: Extra soft water perks include longer-lasting and softer clothes too. How do you put a price on that? Without the hard water drying out your fabrics and making them firm, dull, and itchy, you should be getting a longer lifespan out of all your linens and laundry colors. Plus, they’ll feel better! Isn’t that nice?
Water Systems Increase Home Value
With so many benefits to soft water, the National Association of Homebuilders even featured a whole-home water filtration system in their 2016 New American Home. As they put it, “Clean living is in.” More homeowners are seeing the value of having soft water in their homes and are getting sick and tired of having to make do with hard water. So in that way, installing a new system (especially one with chlorine removal) isn’t just saving you money month-to-month, it’s also boosting the value of your home for down the road.
Our grand total estimate for soft water savings comes in at $720 per year for soap, detergent, water heater lifespan, and laundry savings by washing in cold water. But there are still plenty of other details to factor in.
Outside of that ROI, it’s always worth considering the quality of life upgrade that soft water brings to the table. You can spend less time scrubbing the faucet and shower head to remove hard scale buildup, and you get to enjoy clean dishes—finally free of hard water spots. It also means better water pressure, and less chance of problems with appliances. Even your coffee machine should last longer!
Plus you, yourself, get to feel softer. Hard water dries out skin, but soft water lets you rinse clean and helps your body stay soft and moisturize naturally. It doesn’t just feel better on your skin, soft water is also easier on your wallet.