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Water softener cost guide

In the UK, over 13 million households are affected by hard water. This can cause scale deposits as well as permanent damage to pretty much every appliance that comes into contact with the hard water, from kitchen appliances to your central heating system. If that sounds familiar, investing in a water softener could be the answer to all your problems. But how much does a water softener cost? We’ve broken down the average new water softener cost and installation cost.

How much does it cost to have a water softener installed?

Water softener itemRange - LowRange - HighAverage cost
Water softener installation fee£150£300£225
Budget single cylinder£300£500£400
Quality single cylinder £500£750£625
Budget twin-cylinder£750£1,000£875
Quality twin-cylinder (Kinetico Premier Compact Softener)£1,000£2,000£1,500
Commercial water softener (large home)£2,000£3,000£2,500
Rent water softener (per month)£22
Water softener salt cost 10 kg£9.14
Salt Block 6 Pack£38.69

A new water softener costs between £400 and £630 in most cases, if it’s intended for use at home. But depending on what kind of water softener you go for, you could end up spending anywhere up to £2,000 just on the water softener itself. You’ll then need to budget for the installation costs, which tend to come in at around £225 on average.

Alternatively, you could consider renting a water softener, which would cost around £22 per month with installation included.

You’ll also need to think about where the water softener is going to go. Often, a water softener, together with the salt that goes with it, will take up a whole cupboard. To buy and install one of these cupboards, you could be looking at anywhere between £550 and £1,000. Read our kitchen fitting cost guide to find out more.

Although getting a water softener might sound expensive, it can actually be a very cost-effective investment when you think about how much money you’d otherwise be spending on the repair and replacement of damaged appliances.

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What is a water softener?

A water softener is a filtering system that removes calcium and magnesium minerals from your water. These minerals are what causes hard water, a problem that can result in clogged pipes, decreased water pressure and damaged household appliances – from coffee makers to washing machines and dishwashers.

The higher the temperature of the water, the more the calcium and magnesium will solidify and cause a buildup of scale. This means that hard water can be extremely destructive to hot water appliances.

In contrast, once you have a water softener installed, you may notice that your laundry requires less detergent and your dishes come out sparkling. You might even see that your hair is bouncier and your skin less dry!

How do water softeners work?

Water softener cost

Water softeners use a process called ion exchange to get rid of calcium and magnesium from water. In essence, they cause water to flow through a bed of resin beads (usually made from polystyrene) that are charged with a sodium ion. The positive charge of the resin beads attracts the negatively charged minerals to strip them from the water.

To keep the resin beads recharged, known as regeneration, you’ll need to add the appropriate water softener salt from time to time in a block or tablet. These can easily be bought online or from your local hardware store.

Which factors influence the price of a water softener?

There are a number of factors that can influencer the price of your water softener. These include:

  • Brand: Water softeners from well-known brands often cost more, but they also tend to be more reliable.
  • Size: Water softeners that have a higher capacity are usually more expensive. When working out what size you need, you’ll need to take into account things like the amount of water that needs to be softened and the hardness level in your area.
  • Type: There are lots of different types of water softeners, including ones that don’t use any electricity.

We’d recommend getting a home survey before forking out on a water softener so that you can make sure you’re investing in the right solution for your home. Fitting a water softener usually requires plumbing and electrical skills too, so it’s always best to get a professional involved who can make sure the job is done to a high standard.

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What are the different types of water softeners?

Non-electric water softeners

  • Non-electric water softeners are powered purely by the incoming water pressure. This means that they’re easy to install. Plus, they won’t impact your monthly electricity bills at all!
  • Non-electric water softeners are generally thought to last longer and to be more reliable. A twin tank version will offer you an unlimited supply of softened water at all times of the day and night.

Metered water softeners

Metered water softeners only regenerate when a certain volume of softened water has been used, no matter how long that takes. This makes them the most economical water softener when it comes to regenerating and using salt.

Time clock water softeners

Time clock water softeners are generally more basic, functioning on a timed basis. In a nutshell, the clock is set so that the water softener regenerates on specific days, often at 2am. This is regardless of the amount of water used.

Installation and running costs

When you’re choosing a water softener, you’ll need to take into account both the water softener cost to install and running costs, as these can vary depending on the type, size and brand of water softener. For instance, some systems will need electricity to function, while others won’t. Similarly, more complex systems might be trickier, and therefore more expensive, to install.

If you’re not sure what kind of system will be best for you, just search through our expert installers. They’ll do a survey and recommend the right system for your needs.

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Is soft water safe to drink?

Yes. Although resin beads release sodium into the water to reduce its hardness, this isn’t in high levels, so it’s perfectly healthy. If you have moderately hard water, for example, you’ll usually find that your water softener is adding in less than 2% of your recommended daily intake of sodium – a tiny proportion of what a slice of white bread adds!

Does a water softener need electricity?

This depends on what kind of water softener system you choose. Kinetico water softeners don’t use electricity but most others do.

Are there any water softeners that don’t use salt?

Salt-free water softeners don’t exist. This is because without sodium ions, it would be impossible to get rid of the calcium and magnesium ions that make your water hard. However, you can get salt-free water conditioners. These don’t remove the calcium and magnesium from your water, but they do alter them so that they can’t attach to pipes and form scale.

How much salt should my softener use?

That depends on your water softener. If your softener uses block salt, then you’re looking at an average of around one block per person each month. However, this will vary depending on how much water you use.

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