Investing in a water filter is a less obvious way to save money on your living expenses. If you can’t stand the taste of your tap water, you may have already decided to purchase bottled water, as a better alternative. But there’s a more cost-effective way to obtain fresher, better tasting water.
Cost of Bottled Versus Filtered Water
Bottled water comes from many sources, including tap water. Regardless of the water’s source, the bottling company processes, bottles and distributes it, increasing its cost. Depending on the brand and type of water filter you purchase, the cost of filtered water averages around $0.30 (or less) per gallon. Bottled water (with prices ranging from $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon), on average, costs twelve times as much per gallon.
Water Filter Types
Several types of water filtration systems are available. Some types, like the whole house water filter, aren’t feasible for apartment dwellers. Instead, choose a filtration system based on the contaminant types you’re trying to remove from the water. For apartment dwellers, countertop, pitcher and faucet-mounted filters are the easiest to install. They’re more limited than under-sink filters because they’re visible and usually can’t filter contaminants besides tastes, smells and lead. This type of filter attaches to your faucet or requires you to pour water through it, making it less convenient than other types of water filters.
Under-sink filters are hidden from view. Some only remove bad tastes and odors, while others may remove lead, bacteria and sediment by using multiple cartridges, designed to filter out a particular type of contaminant. Unlike the countertop models, under-sink filters must be attached directly to the pipes below your sink. If you’re unfamiliar with plumbing, hiring a plumber for the installation may be necessary. Your landlord’s permission may also be required to connect something to the pipes in your apartment.
Water Filtration Systems
Your water filtration system should produce water that tastes and smells good by removing undissolved impurities such as silt, sediment, rust and sand, without removing beneficial elements, like fluoride. Examples of dissolved impurities include pesticides, chlorine, and heavy metals. Consider buying a filter that removes cysts, like cryptosporidium and giardia, along with viruses and bacteria which can cause illnesses.
A single-stage model, the most common type of water filtration system, consists of a plastic housing and a cartridge filled with micropore pads and activated carbon. Micropore pads remove undissolved impurities and activated carbon absorbs dissolved impurities. Ceramic carbon filters contain ceramic and carbon components, and are sometimes impregnated with silver, an antibiotic material. Such filters last up to a year, reducing your operating costs.
Reverse osmosis, another common type of water filter, is very effective, especially when combined with a carbon filter. Reverse osmosis forces water that is under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane to remove many contaminants from the water. This type of system is more expensive to operate, so you’ll have to determine whether the additional filtering ability is worth the extra cost.
To save money, start by evaluating the quality of your water. Then, determine your filtering needs, set a budget, and purchase the water filter best suited to your own situation.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.