Water softeners have an important job: They reduce the hard water minerals that damage water-using appliances, deposit buildup on fixtures and shower doors, and make it hard for soaps to lather. Yet traditionally, homeowners have had to devote some time and mental energy to keep these advantageous systems operating at peak performance.
Now, some new softeners have enhanced capabilities that offer users more convenience, customization and peace of mind—especially when manufacturers install sensors, software and additional technologies that enable the units to become “smart” and connect with other devices over the internet.
Homeowners are typically able to use a connected app to monitor and control these smart home appliances, which in turn can send alerts about their status or issues that require attention.
These latest systems are emerging amid increased interest in smart appliances. Culligan’s 2021 Global World Water Day Survey, conducted by Toluna, found that 33 percent of North Americans say they want their homes to be more connected.
Here are six compelling benefits that smart water softeners offer:
Many North American consumers see the value of energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs—45 percent of those we surveyed say they choose those options. Smart softeners are efficient, too.
These systems use a sensor to automatically adjust to changes in your water’s hardness level and regenerate—or flush the minerals left behind during the softening cycle—only when necessary. They don’t need to regenerate based on set factors like a specific water capacity or time interval.
This adjustment capability is particularly valuable if your municipal water system frequently switches to different water sources that have varying degrees of hardness. The approach optimizes salt, water and electricity consumption, which reduces operating costs.
Meanwhile, smart softeners boost the efficiencies of water-using appliances by reducing scale buildup. The Water Quality Association references a study from its research foundation that found that using softened water enabled water heaters to maintain their original factory efficiency rating for as long as 15 years. In contrast, running hard water through the units reduced efficiency by up to 48 percent.
The researchers also found that while showerheads performed well with softened water, those that ran hard water lost 75 percent of their flow rate in less than 18 months.
If you’re away from home, or even at home but not near your softener, you can use an app to check the real-time status of your system, including how many days remain until you run out of salt. You can even remotely bypass the water softener for applications that don’t need soft water, like watering your yard or washing your car. It’s even easy to set a timer to cancel the bypass mode so you don’t have to remember to put your system back online.
Checking the app isn’t the only way to stay informed about a smart softener. You can also set notifications to alert you about service needs, like when salt supplies are low, or about system issues.
Smart softeners can also communicate with your dealer—if that is your preference. You can choose for dealers to access remote diagnostics about your softener, like when the last regeneration occurred, and receive service notifications. These water experts can then reach out to you proactively to schedule necessary service, remotely troubleshoot issues that arise and put the system in bypass mode if necessary.
Our Global World Water Day Survey found 97 percent of North Americans are taking at least one action in their daily lives to save water, like opting for shorter showers or purchasing water-efficient appliances. Smart softeners can contribute to this eco-friendly intention by not only helping you understand your water usage patterns, but also allowing you to set goals for water conservation and monitor your progress through a water tracker app.
The best smart appliances offer added value. For smart softeners, that includes the ability to adjust the softness level of the water so it suits you perfectly. Your system can even let you decide when it should regenerate, like in the middle of the night when no one is using water in your home.