Going green is all the rage these days. Whether it is constructing a wind farm, installing solar energy panels on a roof or simply switching to CFL light bulbs in a home, Americans are finding ways to tap renewable resources and conserve energy.
The push for energy conservation is good news for the water quality industry: The Water Quality Research Foundation Energy Savings Study showed that using softened water in a home improves energy efficiency and can save homeowners money on heating costs.
The industry has seen a push against traditional, salt-using water softeners in recent years, however, as several municipalities in California passed ordinances limiting or banning their installation. The city governments claimed the reason behind the regulations was concern over the effects of salt discharge from softeners on the local environment.
Several months ago, I posed a question to readers of the Water Quality Products eNews newsletter: If an ordinance banning traditional softeners was passed in your area, how would you advise customers who need or want softened water?
Readers’ responses landed on all sides of the issues, but many replied that the answer was simple: They would recommend a salt-free water conditioning system or a physical treatment device.
Devices that fall into these categories have been around for years, but they remain controversial in this country, in no small part because, as Eric Yeggy of the Water Quality Assn. (WQA) points out in his article, “Sorting Out Scale Prevention” (page 16), there is no U.S. standard on the books to consistently certify that these devices are effective at reducing scale.
Anti-scale devices have long been in use in Europe, and a German standard was developed to certify their effectiveness. According to Yeggy, this standard did not take into account the typical flow patterns and heater types used in the U.S., however.
Despite the lack of certifications, anti-scale devices are present in successful U.S. applications. The article, “Scale Reduction Savings” (page 6), features one such application at an apartment complex that had such severe scale in its heaters and pipe that it was considering replacing all of the equipment. It opted to install an anti-scale device instead, and residents are now seeing much lower energy bills.
WQA is working to develop standards that will give anti-scale devices the support of certification. The association currently is working on a standard for electrochemical demineralization devices, and is teaming up with the International Assn. of Plumbing and Mechanical Officals to develop a standard for other types of anti-scale devices.
The development of these standards will not only help anti-scale devices gain acceptance, but also lead to the development of new scale prevention and removal technologies. With so many options available, the industry will be able to provide consumers not only with the treatment options they need, but the energy savings they desire.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 2012 WQP Top Water Quality Projects awards. Last year, we recognized five innovative projects in the December 2011 Reference Guide issue. If you have recently completed a challenging or unique installation, visit www.wqpmag.com  to fill out the online award entry form. Entries must be received by Aug. 30, 2012, and winners will be featured in the December 2012 issue.