Limescale is associated with hard water, which is supplied to over 60% of homes in the UK. Your water may appear crystal clear but it actually contains minerals like calcium and magnesium which form limescale when heated. This is why you notice limescale formation the most in your kettle, coffee machine, on taps and in your shower. Limescale also builds up in hidden areas of the home like your boiler, pipework and inside appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.
Both the visible and invisible limescale in your home could be costing you a fortune in increased energy bills, additional cleaning products and detergents, as well as the costly replacement of appliances.
The Hidden Cost Of Heating Your Home
A study by the Water Quality Research Foundation found that heating hard water costs up to 29% more than heating soft water. This is because you are not only paying to heat the water, but are paying to heat up the dissolved minerals too.
Limescale is not a conductor of heat, it is an insulator. As limescale forms on heating elements in your boiler, kettle or appliances they become less efficient requiring more energy to heat the same volume of water. In fact just 9g of scale can reduce the efficiency of your boiler by almost 6% – costing the average family of 4 an additional £200+ in energy bills per year.
The Hidden Cost Of Inefficient Appliances
Water using appliances like your washing machine, kettle and dishwasher also suffer from the problems associated with limescale. This makes them less energy efficient, meaning you are paying more to heat the water they use.
Limescale build up can also lead to costly breakdowns, rendering your appliances un-usable. In some cases hard water can reduce the lifespan of your appliance by up to 30% meaning you replace expensive appliances more frequently.
The Hidden Cost Of Cleaning
Hard water also reacts with soaps and detergents to form a ‘soap scum’ rather than a nice foamy lather, meaning that more product is required for cleaning, laundry and bathing. If you check the back of your laundry detergent you may be surprised to see that most manufacturers even advise that less product is required per wash when being used with soft water.
Studies show that up to 50% more soap or detergent is required with hard water. Not only does hard water mean you need to use more product but also means that people tend to purchase additional cleaning products (like limescale remover) that would otherwise not be required if the household had soft water. Homes with soft water could save around £100 a year with soaps and detergents lasting longer and no need to purchase limescale related cleaning products.
Hard water also leaves mineral deposits on your clothes, making whites go dull and leaving washing feeling stiff and rigid. Washing your clothes with soft water not only helps them to stay soft and bright for longer, but also eliminates the need for fabric conditioners.
Is There A Solution?
If you live in a hard water area, removing the hardness from the water feeding your home is possible using a technology called water softening. This allows you to tackle the issues associated with limescale at the source – saving you both time and money in the long run. Water softeners work by exchanging the minerals associated with limescale with sodium (or salt), which creates soft water in the process. Interestingly, a water softener is one of the few household appliances that pays for itself over time, with prices starting from just £400 and the savings totalling upwards of £300 per year.
A water softener also has a number of additional benefits including relief from eczema, skin irritation and leaves you with visibly softer, silkier hair.
At a time when energy prices are going through the roof, exploring hidden costs within the home are an important way of understanding how to reduce your household bills. Limescale caused by hard water is often overlooked by homeowners as a contributor to expensive hidden costs and an overall reduction in home efficiency.
The Hidden Costs Of Hard Water is a feature post