Home Water Treatment System Best Ways to Save and Drought Tips

Many home water treatment systems such as point-of-use filters do not consume any water and hence are really not the subject of best use practices and drought actions. The information below pertains only to home water treatment systems that consume water such as reverse osmosis systems and some water softeners.

If you have a water softener or reverse osmosis system that consumes water in the treatment process you have only 2 choices during a drought:

  1. Leave the system on; or
  2. Shut the system off.

On most systems you will not be able to reduce the amount of water consumed in the treatment process.

If you opt to leave the system on, make sure that the regeneration and cleaning processes (the water consuming elements of the treatment system) are programmed to occur overnight between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m. when there is very little other water use occurring inside the house.

If you turn the system off there may be complications for starting it back up again. Consult your instruction manual or contact the system dealer if you have any questions about this process.

Home Water Treatment Water Use

The home water treatment systems that consume water in the treatment process are reverse osmosis systems and water softeners. Point-of-use water filters that attach to the kitchen sink faucet do not consume any water.

The amount of water consumed by a home water treatment system will vary depending upon the type and size of the system. The manufacturer should be able to provide water consumption values.

In a recent study of residential water use conducted for the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, 8% of the study homes were equipped with a home water treatment system that had some consumptive use. There was tremendous variability in these treatment systems. Consumptive use ranged between 1.0 and 74.0 gallons of water per day. The average water use for homes equipped with a home water treatment system was 15.8 gallons per household per day (Mayer, et. al. 1999). This provides a range of water use that might be expected from a home water treatment system.

Home Water Treatment Water Savings

The home water treatment systems that consume water in the treatment process are reverse osmosis systems and water softeners. Point-of-use water filters that attach to the kitchen sink faucet do not consume any water. If water efficiency is a high priority, you can’t do better than a point-of-use filter.

Water softeners and reverse osmosis systems vary tremendously in their use of water for the treatment process. Both systems use water for flushing and regeneration. The amount of water used depends upon the system, the quality of the water being treated, and the amount of water used in the home. Be sure to request water consumption information from the dealer before purchasing any water treatment system or water softener.

Wastewater Savings

The home water treatment systems that produce wastewater in the treatment process are reverse osmosis systems and water softeners. Point-of-use water filters that attach to the kitchen sink faucet do not produce wastewater as part of treatment. The amount of wastewater produced by a home water treatment system will vary depending upon the type and size of the system. The manufacturer should be able to provide wastewater amounts.

Wastewater from water treatment systems is typically drained to the sewer/septic system. However, emerging technologies have begun to look at ways to reuse wastewater from the reverse osmosis process. Unfortunately, the mineral content of home water treatment wastewater may be too high to use for most irrigation purposes.

Home Water Treatment Energy Savings

Strange as it may seem, some home water treatment systems use energy. The home water treatment systems that use energy in the treatment process are reverse osmosis systems and water softeners. Point-of-use water filters that attach to the kitchen sink faucet do not consume any energy.

Water softeners and reverse osmosis systems vary in their use of energy. In both types of systems, energy is used for pumping water for flushing and regeneration. The amount of energy used depends upon the system, the quality of the water being treated, and the amount of water used in the home. Be sure to request energy consumption information from the dealer before purchasing any water treatment system or water softener.

Benefits and Costs

Weighing the benefits and costs of home water treatment involves some intangibles and can’t simply be calculated using water, wastewater, and energy savings. There is no simple formula for calculating the benefits and costs for home water treatment systems, but here are some things to consider:

  • What are the goals of treating the water (i.e. improved quality, remove certain chemicals, soften hard water)?
  • What system best meets these treatment goals (i.e. point-of-use filter, water softener, reverse osmosis)?
  • How much does the system cost?
  • Could the treatment goals be achieved with a less expensive system?
  • What are the annual operating expenses (i.e. water, wastewater, energy, replacement filters)?
  • How long will the system last?
  • If I move can I take the system with me?
  • What happens to the system if I remodel my home?
  • Does the system have a warranty?

Environmental Benefits

Point-of-use water filters offer the greatest environmental benefit since they use neither water nor energy to operate. Water softeners and reverse osmosis systems vary in their use of energy and water, and thus their environmental impact can vary.

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