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The cost of clean water

Written by ecannon - 8 Comments

The cost of clean water

This post, written by Aaron Brandt, comes to us from our partner site QuickenLoans.com.

In order to survive, we need water. However, the water we drink could actually harm us. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, tap water can contain contamination from natural chemicals and minerals, viruses, bacteria, parasites, pesticides and even sewage overflow. That sure doesn’t sound like something you’d want to pour into a tall glass to quench your thirst.

The popular alternative to tap water is bottled water, but this might not be the best option. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, there are actually fewer regulations on bottled water than tap water. And in many cases, bottling companies are just filling their containers with tap water anyway. Those non-biodegradable bottles are also very harmful to the environment as well as expensive. If a person drinks an average of three bottles a day, this can run you anywhere from $3 to $10, depending on the brand. That’s $1095 to $3650 per year on water alone. So maybe tap water is worth a second glance.

While tap water may contain some harmful contaminants, it still can be very useful and cost effective if paired with a filtration system. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the national average cost of tap water is just $2 per 1,000 gallons. That’s $.002 cents per gallon! In order to take advantage of this tremendously cheap resource, there are several tools at your disposal.

  • Faucet-mounted filters: These filters attach directly to your faucet. The replaceable filter captures all of the contaminants. The filter will slow down the flow of water from your faucet. The assembly costs around $30, and replacement filters (which usually last about a month) cost around $20.
  • Carafe filters: These are basically pitchers of water with a filter mounted in the lid. Every time you pour water in through the top, it gets filtered. It can take some time to fill the container, and might not be enough to satisfy your water needs if you drink lots of water. They typically cost from $20 to $40, and replacement filters can cost from $15 to $30.
  • Countertop filters: These filters run from your faucet, through a standalone filter and out a separate faucet head. They also will not impede the flow of water from your regular faucet, if you don’t want the water to be filtered. These can be costly, running from $50 on the low end, all the way to $200. Replacement filters can run from $50 to $150.
  • Undersink filters: These filters are installed out of sight, and let you get filtered water right out of your faucet. Depending on your sink’s plumbing set up, the filter may require additional pluming work, such as connecting to the water line or drilling a hole in your counter top. The filters can cost from $100 to $300, with replacement cartridges costing from $10 to $80.
  • Whole-house filters: These filters help remove dirt and rust, but won’t filter out much else. They are best paired with another filter, to remove the remaining contaminants. They are placed on the main water line going into your house. These can cost from $40 to $300.

No matter what you choose, do some research to learn about each filter’s effectiveness, lifespan and maintenance requirements. Spending a little money on a system up front can save you big bucks in the long run and protect from harmful contaminants. If you already have a filter, let us know which works the best for you in the comments section below!

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Published on May 10th, 2013
Modified on May 29th, 2013 - 8 Comments
Filed under: House & Home

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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8 Responses to “The cost of clean water”

  1. 1
    SteveTodd Says:

    If you think a filter makes the water taste better by all means go for it, but the federal regulations on drinking water are pretty good. Take a look at this study on fridge filters.

    http://www.h2oc.com/pdfs/Refrigerator.pdf

  2. 2
    Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide Says:

    Don’t just go out and buy a filter because you think your water MIGHT be contaminated. Pay for a full water analysis, and if there are real concerns, THEN remedy them using the APPROPRIATE filter technology.

    I live on a well with high sulfur, so to make the water palatable, we have to filter it. I’d never just go out and buy random filtration equipment, though. That’s pointless.

  3. 3
    Chris Says:

    We have been filtering our water with a Brita pitcher filter for at least 20 years. We use quite a bit of water for our family (and our dog) and we keep an extra 1/2 gallon pitcher in the fridge along with the Brita so we always have about 1 gallon of water on hand (as long as everyone keeps them filled). The biggest downsides are that you spend a good deal of time refilling the pitcher–it only hold so much at a time, and you need to fill the top, wait for it to filter through and then repeat. If you do this while you are doing something else (making dinner or packing lunches at night), it’s not so bad–you just have to do it. The water quality is pretty good (sure you could get better for more $), and it will only cost you about $2-3 a month (we buy a large pack of replacement filters from Costco, and our costs are only about $2 a month; filters need to be replaced every 2 months).

  4. 4
    Jo Says:

    Reverse osmosis filtration is the 3-part system needed to remove particulates. This is what a very popular restaurant chain uses. Granted, they use the commercial size, but there are systems sold at big box home improvement stores for installing in homes.

    IMO, given the run-off in our rivers and reservoirs along with lax regulations, it’s the best and most affordable approach.

  5. 5
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer Says:

    Great post. In our former house in the suburbs, we had a whole house activated carbon system, along with a reverse osmosis filter at the kitchen sink for drinking/cooking water. Along with the problems mentioned above regarding drinking water, more and more proof arises that fluoride in the drinking water is not so good for us after all. In our particular affluent suburb, we also had groundwater contamination from a company that had buried chemicals years ago that proved to be cancerous to our water supply.

  6. 6
    ramesh kumar Says:

    Nice post. your thinking about the clean water is better taste of filter the water.

  7. 7
    S. B. Says:

    I’m glad to see more articles being written about water. We are really so fortunate to have access to such cheap potable water in the United States. It’s incredibly cheap and usually it’s also very clean. Having said that, a filter is still a good idea if you think you might have household pipe contaminants or you simply don’t like the chlorine taste. Even with a filter, it’s so much cheaper than bottled water.

  8. 8
    Jo Says:

    The thing is, S.B. is that if the entire keystone pipeline goes in around the aquifer in the midwest and there’s a ruptured pipe, there goes all that water.

    I’m not trying to turn this into a political issue here, but if things take a turn for the worse, then we’ll have to resort to using bottled water. And it’s the same problem with fracking, which is being done quite a bit in PA. We’re on well water, which tastes great that we don’t need bottled water.

    I’m just saying…

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