Water DropThe water in Lindon, Utah, has about 15 grains per gallon, making it considered “very hard water.”

Hard water is the bane of my existence. It leaves spots, ruins pipes, shortens the lives of appliances, and makes bathrooms and kitchens look terrible — on the faucets, in the sinks, on glass, on everything it touches.

Chemically softened water isn't much better. It leaves you slimy, kills plants, adds sodium, and tastes worse than nasty. And the traditional systems require owners to lug enormous bags of salt to remote locations in the basement once or twice per month. And then you forget. And then the hard water builds up anyway. And they you're hosed.

Living in a hard water state means softening or otherwise conditioning the water is a necessity. But choosing the best system for your home isn't easy. For some months now we have been researching various water conditioning systems. The main issues were:

  • No unsightly hard water stains on showers, sinks, faucets, dishes, glass
  • No salt to add
  • Whole house system
  • No special faucets
  • No required segregated plumbing

After looking at the options, we narrowed down our choices to two different systems.

EasyWater

EasyWater Water ConditionerEasyWater is a water conditioner that physically changes the minerals in water to prevent them from forming scale. It doesn't chemically change the water — it doesn't “soften” it at all. It uses electronic frequencies to change the shape and charge of the minerals in water to prevent scale build-up.

While some claim this is voodoo science, I see most of the skeptics coming from the traditional water softening industry. It's not a fly-by-night company. Their clients include: Walmart, Arby's, McDonalds, Motel 6, KFC, Holiday Inn, Frito Lay, Taco Bell, Quaker Oats, and lots more. You've probably heard of a couple of those.

Company reps were more than willing to answer my questions. More importantly, they didn't oversell. They were completely up-front with what the system would do and what it would not do.

In a nutshell, it prevents scale from building up in appliances and pipes and it eliminates any existing scale (which, obviously, isn't an issue in a new home). It also reduces need for soaps and cleaners and leaves your body and hair feeling clean, not slippery and slimy. While it does not prevent hard water spotting and staining, the spots are easy to clean off.

Because we have a large home and are using a hot water recirculation line for the radiant heat, we would need the EasyWater 3500. This retails for $1979.00. The representative I spoke with said we could get a $100 discount.

This is a whole-house system that requires no special faucets and no special plumbing lines, because you don't need any water off-system. There is no salt to fill and no annual maintenance of any kind. It does run on electricity.

The EasyWater system has a three-year warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Total installed cost: $1879.00. Total annual maintenance: $0.00 plus cost of electricity.

NuvoH2O

NuvoH2O Water ConditionerNuvoH2O is an actual water softening system. But unlike the old-style, salt-based systems, the NuvoH2O system uses the process of chelation. The metal ions causing hard water are bound to the chelating agent which keeps the minerals soluble.

The system prevents scale from building up in appliances and pipes and it eliminates any existing scale (which, again, isn't an issue in a new home). It also reduces need for soaps and cleaners. It keeps hard water stains from appearing on your dishes, shower doors, sinks, and faucets.

Because we have a large home a we would need the Manor System. (Using a hot water recirculation line for the radiant heat made no difference in the systems because reheating the water does not break down the chelation process.) This retails for $999.00.

After signing up for information from this company at a home show a few months ago, we got an email last month offering a very short-term 40% discount. I immediately wrote back — explaining that we were building a home and not yet ready to make a water conditioner selection. The representative offered to extend the discount for us. The total discount is $399.60.

This is a whole-house system that requires no special faucets and no special plumbing lines, because you don't need any water off-system. There is no salt to fill, but $89.99 cartridges must be replaced about every six months.

The EasyWater system has a lifetime warranty and a 90-day money-back guarantee.

Total installed cost: $599.40. Total annual maintenance: $179.98.

Water Conditioning Selection

After reviewing these two options carefully, we chose the NuvoH2O system. Obviously it's less expensive to start, but it also has the huge advantage of eliminating the hard-water spotting and discoloration. It also uses no electricity.

While it does require twice per year cartridge replacement, it will take over seven years for the cartridge purchases to equal the higher price point of the EasyWater system. And NuvoH2O has an auto-ship, cartridge recycling service that makes this less inconvenient and also provides a cost savings.

Ultimately, since both systems have similar plumbing setups, we can easily either replace the NuvoH2O system with the EasyWater system — or add the EasyWater system to it — if it's something we decide to do later.

In both cases, however, we were pleased with the honesty we received from the customer service representatives. Both companies seemed more concerned with accurately explaining what their system offered — and seeing that our expectations were met — than in making a quick sale.