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What’s the cheapest way to save energy? Get rid of limescale

Limescale dramatically cuts energy efficiency when heating water

March 4, 2013

Have you had enough of soaring energy prices? Are you looking to cut your energy bills? Before you cover your roof with solar panels and fit costly double glazing make sure you have thoroughly eradicated limescale from your home. Research by the University of Plymouth found that a boiler with no limescale took 90 minutes a day to supply the average home’s hot water, while a boiler with 5mm of scale took more than four hours. With 10mm of scale, this rose to more than six hours, adding hundreds of pounds to a household’s annual gas bill. The Carbon Trust claims that for every millimetre on a boiler’s element the unit loses seven per cent efficiency.

Some areas of the UK don’t need to worry about limescale. Cornwall, Wales, and Scotland, have “soft” water which contains little calcium – the cause of limescale. However, if you live between Leeds and Southampton then your water will most likely be “hard” or “very hard” with a high level of calcium.

There are two major ways of treating hard water. Traditional systems, known as ‘ion exchange’ softeners, which take up significant space, cost from about £300 and require occasional refilling with salt at about £30 a year. Other systems rely on electric fields generated in coils of wire on the supply pipe. The field alters the structure of the calcium and prevents it accumulating, it is claimed. Instead of a hard limescale, a powdery dust appears that is easily removed.The advantages are low cost – as little as £100 – and simple DIY installation.

If you want to find out more about cutting your energy bills click here to read our free guide