Is your water softener wasting water?
by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator
Salt-based systems for softening water use a lot more water than other systems because of their regeneration process, which can use 300L-600L each time. The amount of water used and potentially wasted depends on your softeners method for initiating regeneration.
Manual or Semi-Automatic
These systems must be manually initiated for regeneration to occur.
- Brine levels must be closely monitored.
- Without careful attention, soft water could run out completely.
Only found on old systems and generally not available anymore today. If you have one, you should to look at replacing it.
Time Clock Control
This system is most commonly found on water softeners in Waterloo Region, and automatically recharges at a pre-set time and day.
- The recharge time is calculated based on average daily water usage in the home.
- However, many systems still recharge on the default time/day set up during installation.
- This type of system may run out of soft water if there is heavy usage.
This method is very wasteful as it recharges whether it is needed or not.
Demand-Initiated Regeneration (D.I.R. Control)
These types of softeners only recharge when a certain condition is met so if you are using a softener that uses salt, they are your best choice.
The two main types are:
This system regenerates based on the volume of soft water remaining.
- When the level reaches a pre-set amount, the system initiates a recharge.
- This type is usually found on Dual-Tank units.
Hardness Sensor Control
This system measures the hardness of the water.
- When the resin is low on salt ions, regeneration is initiated.
- These systems are the most costly, but use far less salt and water, so they reap ongoing savings.
- These are also the most environmentally-friendly, since they use less salt and water by regenerating less often, and therefore drain less salt-laden water back into the world.
Whichever system you have, it is important to make sure the regenerations are programmed to happen only when needed. This will not only save water, but money on your water bills as well. And the environment will thank you as well!
- The Region of Waterloo conducted a study (PDF) in 2011 comparing various water softeners and their efficiency. It is detailed but worth reading when considering your water softening options.
- Learn how the REEP House for Sustainable Living softens its water.