Household tips http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/2570/all en-US 5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3418603442_e9e5b9487d_z.jpg" alt="faucet leak" title="faucet leak" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Ambitious title for sure, but not that far off when you look at the facts surrounding freshwater. According to <a href="http://water.org/">water.org</a>, 884 million people (one in eight in the world) lack access to a safe water supply. Less than 1% of the world's fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use. Furthermore, an American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the typical person living in a developing country slum uses in a whole day.</p> <p>All environmental guilt issues aside, saving water is not only good for the planet, it can be a highly efficient way to cut your water and energy bills (energy to heat the water). Here are the top 5 ways that you can cut your water use today. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">7 Ways to Lower Water Heater Costs</a>)</p> <h3>1. Install a Low Flow Showerhead</h3> <p>If you take anything at all from this post, let it be this: get a low flow shower head TODAY. One 10-minute shower with an older shower head uses 55 gallons (5.5 gallons per minute) on average. Most shower heads made before 1992 have a 5.5 gpm flow. The newer, high efficiency Energy Star models use less than half that (2.5 gpm).</p> <p>Energy star showerheads will run you about $35, on average. It only takes two minutes to take off an old showerhead and put a new one. That two minutes and $35 investment would save a family of four 27,500 gallons of water and about $260 in energy costs per year (not to mention the water costs).</p> <p>That's right, a $35 investment would net you $225 in year one and $260 every year thereafter. That's a 640% return on investment within just one year! Plus the residual effect of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-ways-to-feel-better-fast">feeling better about yourself</a> for saving water.</p> <h3>2. Reconsider Hand Dish Washing</h3> <p>If you've switched to hand dish washing from a dishwasher, you may be doing more harm than good. Today's energy efficient dishwashers can do the job on just a few gallons of water. An energy efficient dishwasher can save you at least $30 per year on energy alone (vs. heated dish water) and roughly the same in water costs.</p> <p>There are actually 11 dishwashers on the market right now that use less than 2 gallons per cycle! How many of us use more than that hand washing dishes? I'm guilty. Bosch has the most efficient dishwashers. Check out the <a href="http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=dishwash.search_products_submit">Energy Star dishwasher site</a> to sort by water and energy usage per cycle.</p> <h3>3. Fix that Leaky Faucet</h3> <p>A leaky faucet can waste 2,500 gallons of water per year. If it's hot water, this could cost you $39 annually. Even if it's not hot water, 2,500 gallons is a whole lot of wasted water to have on your conscience. Here's an <a href="http://www.ehow.com/video_15854_fix-leaky-faucet.html">eHow video</a> on how to fix a leaky faucet.</p> <h3>4. Dig Out the Grass</h3> <p>I live in Michigan, which has a humid and moderate climate, and my grass is green for about 2 months out of the year unless it is watered constantly. In more arid climates, the efficiency is likely worse. That's why when we re-landscaped last year, we ripped out two-thirds of the grass in our front yard and put in a garden.</p> <p>It takes a ton of water to keep your grass green, not to mention the inevitable sidewalk and driveway runoff that keeps nothing green. The irony is that constantly watering your grass can do it more harm than good. Grass goes brown in hot weather for a reason &mdash; it is going dormant to protect itself from the sun.</p> <p>There are plenty of ground coverings that look great without requiring much, if any, water. Depending on your climate, take a serious look at sedum, pachysandra, myrtle, creeping lily turf, or good ole' wood chips, rocks, and ornamental grasses. They tend to look much better than dormant, dead, or weed-ridden grass.</p> <h3>5. Fix Your Leaky Toilet and Make Sure It Has a 1.6 gpf</h3> <p>Your toilet might be leaking, and you don't even know it. If you hear any noises when not in use or have to jiggle the handle, you most likely have a leak. Not sure? Put dye tablets in your tank and wait an hour. If you see any dye in the bowl, you have a silent leak on your hands. It's usually an easy fix to take care of.</p> <p>Better yet, why not replace your old toilet? It can be done for about $100. Back in 1994, the U.S. government mandated that toilets use no more than 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) vs. the standard 7 gpf. That's a huge difference!</p> <p>The average person flushes a toilet 2,500 times per year. That equals 17,500 gallons of water with a pre-1994 toilet, but only 4,000 with a low-flow toilet. That's a savings of about $60 annually. If you have a remnant pre-1994 toilet that is anything above 1.6 gpf, you are flushing your money down the crapper.</p> <h3>Interested in More?</h3> <p>Check out G.E.'s <a href="http://20somethingfinance.com/category/live-well/green-matters-eco-friendly-savings/">Green Matters</a> category on <a href="http://20somethingfinance.com/">20somethingfinance.com</a>, where he discusses the economics of a motor scooter vs. a car, electric vehicles, energy savings, and how to fund your retirement through commuting.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Ways to Save Water, Energy, Money, and the World in One Afternoon" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by G.E. Miller. G.E. is the creator of <a href="http://20somethingfinance.com">20 Something Finance</a>, a personal finance blog that focuses on lifestyle, career, investing, and other money topics geared towards young professionals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ge-miller">G.E. Miller</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-save-water-energy-money-the-world-in-one-afternoon">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 3</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-or-tap-the-right-choice-for-water-may-surprise-you">Bottled or Tap: The Right Choice for Water May Surprise You</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Green Living energy Household tips water Mon, 22 Feb 2010 15:00:06 +0000 G.E. Miller 5394 at http://www.wisebread.com Beyond the Slow Cooker: 10 Eco- and Budget-Friendly Household Helpers That Progress Left Behind http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-the-slow-cooker-10-eco-and-budget-friendly-household-helpers-that-progress-left-behind <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyond-the-slow-cooker-10-eco-and-budget-friendly-household-helpers-that-progress-left-behind" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/3308812949_4bc1f20ab0.jpg" alt="hanging laundry" title="hanging laundry" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="304" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cleaning? Cooking? Ugh, you say. Make friends with it, compadre; they've got to be part of the frugal warrior's toolkit. Me, I avoid cleaning as much as possible until a young offspring can't find clean underthings and I want to howl in the chasm of Boring Adult Responsibilities and go hide in the kitchen, which I enjoy much more. When that no longer works, and when the children look at me like <i>You Did This to Me,</i> I look for ways to make it easier. I also look for ways to make it cheaper, because when my frugal and eco-selves are in partnership, then I can feel my groove coming back. Because if there is one thing I've learned, it's that I want to spend my better days kicking ass and making change, and not spend them in Target buying overpriced refills and feeling like some crazy woman on a commercial who smiles at her mop while a song plays in the background.</p> <p>So you understand why I need, need, need to share these revelations with you. Some of these tools or tricks don't save any time, and a few take more time. But if I spend a few more minutes living out my values, then it's like <i>I'm</i> the thing plugged into the outlet and feeling my power.</p> <h2><b>1. The Carpet Sweeper</b></h2> <p>I bought a Casabella carpet sweeper for my kids from a Montessori-based toy and supply catalog (&quot;Now you're Mommy's Little Helpers, darlings!&quot;) and now I join in the fight to use it. It picks up a surprising amount from our well-traveled rugs and floors, and I don't need to use electricity, or my own stress circuits, as much.</p> <h2><b>2. Take Back the Mop</b></h2> <p>C'mon, Swiffer. How hard is it to bring up a mop and bucket filled with hot water and Murphy's Oil Soap? I'd rather take two minutes to do that than pay for your expensive refills. Plus the carpet sweeper gets bits in the meantime. Jealous, much? Plus flushing that dirty water down the toilet is <i>pure victory.<br /> </i></p> <h2><b>3. Area Rugs</b></h2> <p>Do you remember relatives that would take rugs outside and beat them? Small area rugs just beg for this simple cleaning. Roll them up or just shake them out the window &mdash; you've just saved yourself some money and gotten an upper-body workout. Fantastic for when guests are coming in 1.5 seconds: as they are walking up your steps, you can be shaking the bathroom rug out the window and feeling confident that their private bathroom time won't involve passing judgment upon you. You can't beat it with a stick, man.</p> <h2><b>4. The Art of the Drying Rack</b></h2> <p>Don't have the space or the time? You might be surprised. A strong drying rack can cost under $20, but if you air-dry most of your clothes, you could save five percent or more on your electric bill and some of the beating dryers can take on clothes. Do you have a small outdoor space or deck on which to place a drying rack? If not, then consider washing a load of clothes during the day and then setting up the rack at overnight in your kitchen. Newer washers pretty much take all the drippiness out of wet clothes, anyhow, so most items will try overnight. For items that take longer fold down one half of the rack and leave the rest to dry through the day, until the next load is ready. </p> <p>Air-drying is not a huge effort when it becomes part of your routine, and I've actually found the process pleasant in the way I find gardening pleasant: your efforts are met by Mother Nature's, to your benefit. If you go so far as to wash out your plastic bags, drying racks can also hold these. Just puff out the sides before placing them between the rungs. <i>(Yes, I do this, and yes, I also wear makeup, so calm down.)</i></p> <h2><b>5. Feather Duster</b></h2> <p>Speaking of Swiffer, they have helped fuel a feather duster backlash. Dusters spread dust, they say. I'm so over that assertion, because I hate to dust. What takes less time, my friends: feather dusting OR dusting and then running out to buy refills? When I see other people wiping things down I want to scream, because that strikes me as Stepford territory. If you dust before you vacuum, gravity helps you get all the yuckies. So find a lovely duster, with a wooden handle and real feathers. Some of these are almost things of beauty. After you've dusted a room, just take it outside and twirl it between your palms quickly to release the dust to the air. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.</p> <h2><b>6. Windows</b></h2> <p>Room air fresheners, candles and other artificially scented items are outrageously expensive and contain toxic pollutants that are even worse for you if they mix with ozone. If your house smells stale or your pets have given it a bad name, open the windows for a few minutes. (So what if you lose heat, or cool air? Your house stinks, so make an energy offering to the gods.) If you have guests coming, light a beeswax candle (the other ones are junk) and ask yourself if you have 15 minutes to bake something quickly (such as fruit with oatmeal, butter and brown sugar on top), so you can fill your home with a lovely smell and have a treat on hand to boot. The 20-second fix? Heat a pan of water on your stove and add cinnamon, oranges, and any other spices you enjoy. You can reuse the water for tea later.</p> <h2><b>7. Cast Iron Pans</b></h2> <p>I can't believe people ever stopped using these incredibly affordable pans. Get used to the way it handles temperature, and you'll have yourself a non-stick pan every time &mdash; except, for me, eggs on occasion. Get a pack of scrubbers and have no fear of Teflon poisoning your soul. Wash with water or a dab of mild soap and dry by wiping or letting it sit on a hot stove for two minutes. Oil as necessary. Once you cook a grilled cheese in a cast iron pan, or grill vegetables on a grill-top piece, you'll never look back. (Plus it adds iron to your diet, an added plus for women who like to kick ass.)</p> <h2><b>8. Hand Blender</b></h2> <p>I've burned out a motor in both a pricey little mini-Cuisinart AND an electric hand blender. <i>I love the burnt smell of $50 out of the window.</i> I've hemmed and hawed about replacing them for long enough that I started to use a hand blender in the meantime. I had bought it for my children to help with baking projects, but it did light whipping and blending jobs beautifully. The older, full-sized metal rotary blenders are so strong and fast that there is less likelihood of burnout. Obviously, you'll still need a large Cuisinart or blender, or both. But the invention of small appliances that sputter out at chopping nuts or bread crumbs is NOT a frugal cook's best friend, so nuts to them.</p> <h2><b>9. Bread Machine</b></h2> <p>You there. I heard you scoff when I suggested you bake in order to scent your home. <i>Fine.</i> I still say speed cooking kills two birds with one stone: gives you something to eat and makes your house feel homey and alluring to everyone around. Have you seen a bread machine at a yard sale lately? Grab it. Buy one new, even (gasp). Why? Just do the math: bread costs $2.00 a loaf, and a loaf may get you through a week of bagged lunches if you're lucky. Less time if you have to pack multiple school lunches. Really flavorful, natural breads cost twice as much. Crusty farmer's market bread might run you as much as $6, and I've had to tamp down my bread snob self if I want a shred of convenience. </p> <p>Spend ten minutes in the morning drinking coffee and dumping six or seven items into your bread machine's loaf pan, and an hour later (if you use the speed-bake setting) you have a loaf appropriate for any meal, made with the ingredients you can control and improve upon. Add nuts and dried fruit for a real meal. You can program the newer bread machines to operate while you are out, and you can come home to warm bread. Winter may not be so bad after all.</p> <h2><b>10. Rags</b></h2> <p>Post-recession, has it come to this, you ask? Rags? I can still afford paper towels, thank you very much. Cool. Go with your paper towel self. But notice how, on the days you can't find the size-a-sheet varieties, you don't leave the store quite as cheerful as when you came in. Notice how you may wipe up a water spill and leave the sheet out to air dry and reuse. If this scenario fits you, you are ready for rags.</p> <p>Note: This is not the Great Depression. Not every shirt that your washing machine shrinks or stains needs to be reborn as a rag. You will find fabrics that you like to use. You may just want a few of those pretty microfiber cloths that polish glass with water alone (ka-ching!). You may be all about the old cloth diapers, mama. Just embrace rags: fill a whole drawer with them, and your cleaning caddy to boot. Once you are in a laundry routine you will always have a rag on hand and you will save the paper towels for special occasions. Feeling good? Maybe you are ready to graduate to cloth napkins, and total frugal domination. Join us in the fight, and take back the home. And when you're done, get the heck out of the house and go do great things in the (hopefully) greener world.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-the-slow-cooker-10-eco-and-budget-friendly-household-helpers-that-progress-left-behind" class="sharethis-link" title="Beyond the Slow Cooker: 10 Eco- and Budget-Friendly Household Helpers That Progress Left Behind" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This is a guest post by Annalise Silivanch, writer and Area Chair of Humanities at University of Phoenix.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/annalise-silivanch">Annalise Silivanch</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-the-slow-cooker-10-eco-and-budget-friendly-household-helpers-that-progress-left-behind">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/soy-milk-tofu-and-veggie-burgers-for-pennies-anyone">Soy Milk, Tofu, and Veggie Burgers for pennies, anyone?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-dumb-little-purchases-you-need-to-stop-making-today">13 Dumb Little Purchases You Need to Stop Making Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-baking-soda-took-my-bathroom-from-yuck-to-yes">How Baking Soda Took My Bathroom from “Yuck” to Yes!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div> Life Hacks Green Living Lifestyle budgeting eco-friendly Household tips Fri, 02 Oct 2009 13:00:02 +0000 Annalise Silivanch 3657 at http://www.wisebread.com Do You Really Need “Soft” Water? http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/do-you-really-need-soft-water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/suds.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Water is a necessity.<span> </span>Soft water may not be.<span> </span>Depending on where you live and how you use water, the cost of processing your water may not be worth it. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>What is soft water?</strong><span> </span>Depending on who you ask, it may mean different things.<span> </span>Simply put, “soft” water has been processed so that excess levels of dissolved minerals are removed.<span> </span>Specifically, it is “hard” water (containing calcium, magnesium, bicarbonates, and sulfates) that has been put through a water softener.<span> </span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_waterhttp:/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_water">According to Wikipedia</a>, “A water softener, like a fabric softener, works on the principle of cation or ion exchange in which ions of the hardness minerals are exchanged for sodium or potassium ions, effectively reducing the concentration of hardness minerals to tolerable levels and thus making the water softer and gives it a smoother feeling.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Why is soft water desirable?</strong><span> </span>The number one argument I hear time and again for soft water is the ability to get a rich soap lather.<span> </span>Soft water proponents will tell you how much money you’ll save by using less soap, detergents, and how nice and smooth your skin and hair will feel.<span> </span>For those of you who use the same amount regardless, you might find that it is preferable to the soap scummy shower mess and the build-up that can cause havoc to your pipes and the elements of your hot water heaters. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Really hard water (like the kind I grew up with) can cause other ill effects.<span> </span>As a young girl living on the Missouri River bottom, I remember running a bath and scrambling to wash up before the water turned a horrible blood orange color.<span> </span>This usually happened within minutes, and my hair was a freakish rust color all throughout my elementary years.<span> </span>It was apparent by just looking at me that we had well water and no softener system.<span> </span>Forget the perks of having fluffy towels, I just wanted my hair back. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Today it is rare to run into families with old wells and that level of hardness in their water.<span> </span>Which brings me to wonder if it really is the necessity that everyone claims it is.<span> </span>Like anything else, there are costs associated with having soft water, and for some folks, it may not be worth it. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Why might you NOT want soft water?<span> </span><span> </span></strong>With the exception of a few higher tech systems, most water softeners require electricity and an avid supply of softener salt.<span> </span>Depending on the amount of soft water you use, your salt needs may differ.<span> </span>I have known families to go through more than a bag a month, and others go several months on the same bag.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">In addition to the “hard” costs of having soft water (no pun intended), there are also some undesirable side-effects that may occur, including corrosion of water pipes.<span> </span>There has also been undocumented “speculation” as to the health risks associated with drinking water treated with high levels of iodized salt.<span> </span>(The easy solution is to make sure softened water is not being supplied to drinking faucets or fridge water dispensers.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal">You may also not be a fan of the “slippery” feeling that soft water can leave on your skin.<span> </span>The only solution to this is to simply use far less soap, or switch to a synthetic option.<span> </span>(<a href="http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/jul2001/996090332.Ch.r.html">See this link for the chemical explanation</a>.) </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>How do you decide if you need soft water?</strong><span> </span>Ask an expert.<span> </span>(By expert, however, I don’t mean the guy trolling your neighborhood hoping to sell you a purification system or a softener on high-interest payment plans.<span> </span>He will always tell you that your water is too hard to live with.)<span> </span>By having your water independently tested, you can get a reading into how “hard” your water really is.<span> </span>According to the <a href="http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/water-eau/hardness-durete/index-eng.php">Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality</a>, “Hardness levels between 80 and 100 mg/L (as CaCO3) are generally considered to provide an acceptable balance between corrosion and incrustation. Waters with hardness levels in excess of 200 mg/L are considered poor but have been tolerated by consumers. Waters with hardness in excess of 500 mg/L are unacceptable for most domestic purposes.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">If you do decide that you need soft water, there are a few things you can do to cut down on the costs: </p> <ul> <li>Run soft water only to areas used for washing and cleaning – NOT for cooking and drinking.<span> </span>Not only will this reduce the workload on your softener, it will keep you from ingesting large amounts of softened water (which hasn’t been determined safe or unsafe at this point.) </li> </ul> <ul> <li>Save water and salt by running the minimum number of regenerations necessary to maintain water softness. </li> </ul> <ul> <li>Keep your softener maintained and cleaned regularly.<span> </span>If purchasing a newer model, look for one approved with an Energy-Star rating, or consider a non-electric system. </li> </ul> <ul> <li>Buy your softener outright from a retail outlet, and with cash, if possible.<span> </span>Avoid drawn-out payment plans from water suppliers who make most of their money on the interest from your loan. </li> </ul> <p class="MsoNormal">Going soft is a decision that every household will need to make on their own.<span> </span>For those in certain areas where hard water is not a problem, it probably doesn’t make sense to pay to have a water softener.<span> </span>In other places, it is a necessity that is impossible to live without.<span> </span>Whichever way you decide to go, just try to be smart and use your resources wisely.<span> </span>Water is precious, regardless of its chemical makeup.</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water" class="sharethis-link" title="Do You Really Need “Soft” Water?" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/do-you-really-need-soft-water">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. 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