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The water savings of units that soften hard water can depend on a number of factors:

• Santa Barbara’s water hardness ranges from 20-25 grains per gallon. Try setting your water softener to 20 grains per gallon. If it needs to be softer, try 21 grains per gallon. Too high a setting means more water is needed to wash off soap.

• Set the cycle for efficiency that corresponds to how much water is used.

• Replace a time-clock-controlled water softener with a demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) water softener. These only run while water is in use and save water, energy, and maintenance. Retrofit DIR Controllers are available to easily convert time-clock-controlled models. Look for WaterSense and Energy Star models for replacements.

• Switch from sodium chloride to potassium chloride. Sodium causes problems during the wastewater treatment process and increases the salinity of recycled water used for irrigation.

We invite readers to send us their water-saving strategies to share by emailing


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