Here's a simple question that there seems to be some disagreement on: Is a scaled-up water heater element less efficient than a clean one? Alliant Energy, Wisconsin's electric utility, recently ran a television segment on water softeners, in which they claimed that scale cuts into efficiency. I don't think that's true. While a scaled-up element will certainly overheat and fail before a clean one, it seems to me that all of the electricity going to the element results in heat, which eventually finds its way into the water. It may take longer to heat the tank, but it won't draw more juice in the process. The story is completely different with a gas or oil-fired water heater, of course, since heat that is not absorbed by the water in the tank goes up the stack. But with electricity, efficiency is lost in the form of heat, which in the case of a water heater, is all good. No?