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Ask The Readers: Cost-effective filtered water?

Today’s question is from Christina:

My husband and I do not like drinking the water from the faucet so we buy 24 ct. cases of water. They are about $2.99 per case, but I notice I drink less water than I should because I hate having to keep buying cases of water.

We are considering getting a filter for our kitchen faucet (expensive to start and filter replacements are also expensive) or getting a Culligan water dispenser. Which do you think would be more cost effective? -Christina

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  • Becky says:

    My husband installed a reverse osmosis system under the sink for our water. You can buy one at Lowes for $146.00. He changes the filters 2x year. He finds all of our replacement filters at thrift stores. We have had a system for 15 years now. He’s had to replace the whole system only twice.

    • sona says:

      Reverse Osmosis has been written up as the best for water health by most health magazines etc. Adding lemon to water does nothing to remove chlorine, fluoride, bacteria and other “stuff” It simply disguises. It has been in the news lately that lemons in water in restaurants carry the most bacteria because they are sitting cut up in a container and EVERYONE who works there are putting their hands in it as they grab for a customer. Something to consider!

    • Julie says:

      I second getting a reverse osmosis system. You may want to consider the quality of your water and if you have impurities you need to filter out. RO systems are sometimes the only way to get certain things (like nitrates and nitrites I believe) out of your water.

    • Tracy says:

      I also highly recommend the reverse osmosis system. It is so much better for your health. My husband bought one at Home Depot, and installed it himself. We have been very pleased with it, and bought another one right away when we moved into our second home.

  • Cheryl says:

    We use a dual water filter system where the water enters the house. Then we use a Brita pitcher for drinking water.

  • Mrs. W says:

    Check out the Aquasana water filter. We’ve had one for years and have really liked it.

  • Lisa says:

    I don’t like the taste of water from the faucet either. My solution? Put a small piece of lemon in my glass…tastes great! Just enough to mask the faucet water taste. I buy lemons in bulk (bags of them at Aldi), slice, freeze on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet till firm, then dump them in a freezer bag. They stay nice indefinitely and we never have to buy bottled water or a filter.

  • Nicole says:

    We got a reverse osmosis filter put in . Filter gets changed anout every 2 years! They ran a line to our fridges water dispenser and a special spicic on our subk. Love it! Worth the money to instal. No bottled waters or filters!!!!!

  • Chris says:

    What about a Brita water pitcher? Much more cost effective. There are often great deals on the pitchers and you can typically get a 3 pack of filters for around $14.99. Each filter last 2 months on average, so that’s only $2.50/month. We also bought some refillable water bottles (non BPA) and use those around the house and can take them in the car, to work, etc.

    • Heather says:


    • Joelle says:

      Brita is the way to go! Fill up empty juice bottles with filtered water to make sure you always have a constant supply of cold water. Works like a charm for us!

    • Kelli says:

      Same here. Love my brita pitcher.

    • Ambrosia says:

      That’s what my hubby and I do! When I’m pregnant I can’t stand water that tastes funny, so my mom-in-law bought us one. I’ll never go back, and added bonus- now I know how much water I’m drinking…

    • Deb says:

      Agree, we are on city water, but I made money on a Brita pitcher and rebate a few years ago. Buy the filters at Costco. I personally prefer Brita water to water from the water bottles. Buy a cool water bottle that you LOVE.

    • Cecee says:

      Agree. I Love my Brita pitcher and the filters are very inexpensive. I get the Great Value brand and they fit the Brita Pitchers for $9.99 they last me 6-8 months. I use BPA free water bottles at work and home and fill with water from the pitcher

      • carmen says:

        We also use and recommend Brita…we don’t have a pitcher (yet), we have the counter-top dispenser (we got it at Target, but it’s also on for about $40…I think we paid $30 or less with a gift card deal).
        I have never paid full price for the filters. I usually get them for less than $4 each or less when they’re on sale (the multi-packs) and have been lucky so far with the timing of the sales so that I don’t have to stock-up too much in advance.
        It’s supposedly an 18-cup dispenser and we fill it about once a day. We change the filters about every two months and sometimes sooner when the water starts to taste like tap water again…some of us notice the difference, but others of us don’t :).

  • Chrissy says:

    In our personal experience, you can’t do better than a Berkey filter. It sits on your counter & is a gravity filtration system. According to the product description on Amazon, it “purifies both treated water and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries, where regulations may be substandard at best. Perfect for outdoor activities and a must in hostile environments where electricity, water pressure or treated water may not be available. The Royal Berkey® system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury.”

    You can actually taste the difference in the water, it’s so pure. We’ve even had family members comment on how wonderful it is before they knew it was “Berkey water”. We highly recommend it!

    • Mallory says:

      I agree with Chrissy, get a Berkey. We have friends who’ve had theirs for 8 years and haven’t had to change the filters yet!

    • Ann Noskowiak says:

      Yup – we love ours. Big initial cost (check for deals online) but our filter has lasted 1 1/2 years (family of 4) – I think that Berkey says it’s 2 cents a gallon cost? And that you could put pond water into the filter and it would make it clean to drink (though I’ve never tried it!)

    • Sarah T. says:

      We love our Berkey as well. We bring it camping even and make the non-potable water potable! The filters are expensive, but last forever, making the cost-per-gallon a steal!

    • We have had a Berkey for about 7 years and haven’t had any problems with it. We replace the filters probably every 18 months or so.

      • KimH says:

        Im in complete agreement with buying a Berkey… Not only does it filter out normal contaminants, you can buy additional filters that Removes: Fluoride, Arsenic V and pre-oxidized Arsenic III, as well as other residual heavy metal ions.. The Big Berkey system removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance.

        I’ve had my Big Berkey for 2 years and we love it.. I’ll never have to buy another filter system other than the fluoride arsenic filters.. If that is something you want, you need to replace them annually while the normal filters can be cleaned and used essentially for ever..

        • Lizzie says:

          How do you know for sure when to change the filters? 🙂
          We have ceramic filters~do you clean them in between?
          Also, when do you change the fluoride filter?

      • Melissa, do you know that you can clean the filters? Remove them from the top part, and clean the outside (ceramic) with a scrubbie. Then put them in a pan of water and simmer them on the stove top for about 15 minutes to re-activate the charcoal inside, and once they are cool, re-install. We have a 4 post Big Berkey, but I only ever installed 2 of the filters and left the plugs in the other 2 holes. I clean the filters periodically, but we are still using the first two…and it’s been 9 years. They still work great.

    • J in VA says:

      We LOVE our Berkey. We filter the fluoride, chlorine and any other yuk from our 80 year old pipes that brings in our city water. The other benefit over RO is the filtration happens without water waste and you don’t have to add the extracted minerals back.

      We love ours so much it’s hard to drink regular city water. The cost is still great even when you factor in the additional secondary filters for chlorine, etc…

      Tip: if you buy one, buy the largest you can afford. We upped our water intact so much after buying it, we could certainly have bought larger, but instead increased our filter numbers the halve the filter time to make up for the volume.

    • Joy says:

      Our family loves our Berkey filter too! We use a LOT of water for drinking, cooking, pets, etc., and this filter works great for us. I love the fact that with the BLACK filters (rather than white) you can use it for emergencies, to filter gutter/lake/pool water. I bought the Filter years back through Lehmans, although when I reordered the filters 5+ years later, I found them cheaper on Amazon.

    • Heather says:

      Yet another Berkey loving family here! We figured that we’ll have to replace the cartridges about every 5-6 years based on our water usage for a family of 5 and two dogs. And we do clean them at least once a year as well. The price is larger upfront (we bought with a 10% discount code from a blogger) but in the end it really is very reasonable. And we do love that we have it in an emergency…could filter our rain barrels or even creek water if needed. If you can swing the initial purchase I think you’ll love it!

      And if you have little ones, just be prepared that they will LOVE getting their water from the spout. Not often a problem, but there have been a few messes. When new kids come to visit they all think the Berkey is the coolest thing! And adult guests wonder it I have the largest iced tea holder or coffee pot in the world 🙂

  • Madison says:

    I prefer a 5 gallon bottled water and water cooler. Costs about the same as a filter, tastes great and you get get one with a instant hot spigot.

  • Angie says:

    When we moved into our new house last year, we bought a Whirlpool reverse osmosis filtration/purification system that mounted under our kitchen sink. It has a fancy looking little faucet that we installed in the hole in our sink that was previously used for the sprayer. So, we only use that filtered water for drinking and cooking.

    I think the system cost around $150 at Lowes. The filters are $70 and last for 6 months. After the initial investment in the system, we spend $140/year on filtered water.

    Prior to having filtered water, no one in my house would drink tap water. I was buying 35 count packs of the Great Value 16.9 oz bottles of water at WalMart at $3.50 a pack. My family drank 1 1/2 packs a week, so we were spending $273/year on bottled water. In our case, the system almost paid for itself in the first year and now we are saving $133/year.

    We love our system and the water tastes great! I don’t know anything about a Culigan system.


  • LeahB says:

    I can’t say enough about the cost and convenience of our under-sink filter. They can be found on sale from time to time (I wonder about Black Friday at home improvement stores?)

    I found an online company that sells filters for very cheap. Maybe $10? If you find a good price, stock up. Amazon also sells filters.

    I spent a decade using Brita pitchers, and hated the hassle. If you can make it affordable, it’s so nice.

  • ochoninos says:

    I recently bought a Filtrete filter that easily “taps” into your water line under the sink. The cold filtered water comes right out of your existing faucet, and doesn’t take up any counter space. No more chlorine or off taste, and the whole unit only cost about $40 on Amazon. The filter only needs changing twice a year.

  • Kellie says:

    Im no help here I hate the taste of my tap water and I hate it with a filter to, I notice I drink way more water when I buy bottles in cases. Though I have considered buying the big gallons for my kitchen but I know I don’t drink the amount they charge, and I dislike the taste of water in a cup that was washed in the water at my house. lol im so weird.

  • dame says:

    Have a culligan faucet mount. I bought the mount for $15 (about) and subscribe for the refills (about) $10 EVERY THREE MONTHS. Cheaper than bottled water and more eco friendly.

    I have used brita, pur and the culligan. I prefer the taste of the pur ( 3 stage) nut the culligan is more durable and cheaper.

  • Maria T. says:

    I highly recommend the folks and filters at Pure Water Products.

    We had the same problem and finally purchased a countertop reverse osmosis filter from them. It has been one of the best small investments we ever made. We rent so we didn’t want to buy a filter to install permanently. We have used this filter every day for years now and still love it. We had a problem with the faucet diverter valve last year and I contacted them to purchase a replacement and they sent us the part for free. Excellent customer service! We replace the carbon block filters once a year and still have not had to replace the RO membrane. Pure Water Products sends us a postcard each year with a reminder to change the carbon block filters.

    They also have a different type of filter that is less expensive up front and to maintain and has great ratings. My stepmom had one like this years ago when they had sulphur laden well water and it was a very effective filter.

    We had an Alhambra water delivery service years ago when we first moved to CA and it was decent to start with, but they kept hiking the rates so we eventually switched to bottled water like you did. We also had a problem with the water dispenser growing a weird slime that had to cleaned regularly.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to go with! 🙂

  • Lana says:

    Come to my house every two weeks and take your drinking water home like some friends of ours. 🙂 We have fabulous tasting well water and fell very blessed! We test it regularly to be sure it is safe.

    Be careful to maintain any filters you may have. We know a family with a Berkey who became ill and their filters were full of bacteria. Another family had an under sink filter and testing showed parasites in their filtered water.

    • Sarah says:

      Same here! We are lucky to live in a place where there is hardly any of the junk that is in most people’s water. It’s sooo good. We get sad when we have to drink water on vacation. 😉

  • brittany says:

    We buy the gallon jugs of distilled water at Kroger for $.90. Maybe a filter system would be more economical, but we haven’t looked into that. Grabbing a few jugs of the water just seems to work for us. I keep one at my desk at work and a few at home.

    • Rebecca says:

      Just want to note that the fluoride in tap water is a good thing…the addition of flouride to the public water supply is credited with the decline in oral health problems since its addition. Kids especially should have fluoride supplemented if your water has none.

      • Sharon T says:

        I will have to respectfully disagree. Recent studies have shown fluoride to be harmful. I pass on having it in my drinking water and I also do not use toothpaste or other oral products containing fluoride.

        • J in VA says:

          I also respectfully disagree.

          Many think fluoride contributes to osteoporosis.

          Secondly, municipal fluoride comes from industrial waste and is considered hazmat in transport and would be an environmental accident if it were added to a natural water source, ie….your local creek.

          Fluoride in toothpaste is pharmaceutical grade but still not meant to be ingested. Notice on your toothpaste tube…you are encouraged to call poison control if your child eats toothpaste.

          Lastly, if someone drinks huge amounts of water or an infant drinking formula, there is no control of the “dosage” of the added fluoride.

      • Justine says:

        Fluoride is not meant to be ingested. I’m trying to find an economical water filter that will eliminate it from my family’s water supply.

  • Lisa says:

    I recommend a Berkey….we’ve had one for years and love it! It’s also great in an emergency situation because if you keep it filled, you’ll always have fresh water. We splurged for the Big Berkey and are glad we did!

  • Mel says:

    For 18 years I have been using a water dispenser and refilling 5 and 3 gallon jugs at the grocery store. They are heavy to carry/lift and when you have to refill them you spend more money at the store “picking things up” 😉

    It’s a pain. Buy a filter for the house.

  • erica says:

    Hi we use a water Dispenser and bought the jug at walmart and twice a month fill the jug for under 10 dollars for a family of four easier for the kids to pour their own drink i found my water dispenser at a garage sale for $5 dollars in excellent condition maybe try craigslist for a good deal.

  • Rudi Pittman says:

    I use this (and you can search on ebay using this phrase)
    Paragone Maintenance Free Countertop Water Filter P3060 Filters 25,000 Gallons!

    I am not a water fan……so I want it clean and filtered and this seems to do the job….I found it on sale at for $30 (clearance) but now it seems to be $80 or so everywhere I checked. I also recommend a water filter on your refrigerator because it does no good to have filtered water if you then add dirty ice.

  • Beka says:

    We only use RO water also. Tap water is a chemical cocktail! We have purchased 5 big 5 gallon jugs and we take them to a grocery store (Wal-Mart mostly for us) and refill them at their Culligan water machine for 37 cents a gallon. We’ve researched and price compared quite a few times and although it’s annoying to go and fill our jugs, it’s way cheaper than buying a quality RO system. We’ve been doing the jugs thing for 6 years now and it works for us. I wrote a bit about it here…

  • Tonya says:

    Get a Brita water pitcher (they make large ones for home and even personal size for when you’re on the go). It’s not just economical, it’s so convenient. No need buy water on the go or lug heavy bottles. If that’s not practical for you, consider investing in the large bottles and filling them up at your local grocery store. Where we live, 5 gallons of water is $1.50 that way. We already have a cooler from a previous delivery contract, and this is what we do when entertaining because even the largest Brita container isn’t big enough to keep up with a crowd.

  • Nikki says:

    You can also buy water by the gallon for less than a dollar each. That’s what I do, and it’s very cost effective.

  • PJ says:

    We bought a couple of 5 gallon jugs. We refill them at the grocery store at the dispensing station. It costs $1.50 to refill the 5 gallon jug. We used to use a water dispenser at home, but cleaning it was a pain. Now we just fill a 1 gallon rectangular pitcher from Big Lots that fits in the door easily and pour us a glass when we want. If we’re leaving home, we fill a to-go tumbler with a lid.

  • Get a Berkey! They are quite affordable while offering the highest level of filtration available. The cost comes out to around a penny per gallon! I did a review of one on my blog a while ago that has a whole lot more information than what I can type out here:

  • margaret says:

    When we own our own home I really want to install a reverse osmosis water filter. For now though, I refill gallon jugs at the grocery store. The water they have is reverse osmosis, so that is great! I noticed the first time I bought water I had to really read the labels. One brand I had been buying I thought was reverse osmosis filtered, but it was actually just “spring” water.
    I usually get two gallons a week. (I should be drinking more than that…) Refills are 40 cents a gallon, so definitely cheaper than the 24 packs. And less plastic waste.

  • Jessi says:

    We love our Brita water pitcher…You can find them inexpensive if you search for deals/coupons and you only need to change the filter every 2-3months so its pretty cost effective…There are coupons for the filters usually floating around too or check for clearance when you are out and about…I just happened to come across some at Target on accident last year marked down to less than $3 a box for a 3 pack! I used 5 filters last year , so for the entire year it only cost me $5.00!!!

  • BUSY MOM IN AL says:

    We have a Multi-Pure Aqua-Versa under the sink filter. It is a solid carbon block filter. I got is used on Ebay for about half the price. It has a slim faucet that installed easily on our sink. The water tastes really good and it costs around 9 cents a gallon! I buy a filter every 18 months or so off ebay and it costs around $40.

    If you buy new, they have a really great warranty also and a unit that can sit on your counter.

    Check out their website

  • HillaryM says:

    We have a water dispenser – it can sit on the counter, but we opted to use the taller base to stand alone. We’ve had it for almost 13 years. We use the 5 gallon bottles, less than $2 to fill up with RO water from our local Kroger. We have a Kroger in every direction from our rural home and have found that even though they use the same filtering/dispensing, we much prefer the taste from one town in particular. We now always fill our water jugs there. Our dispenser is also a chiller (I drink much more water when it’s cold – and I love not always opening the fridge) and has a hot tap as well. All of our children (from the 3 year old up) love the independence of filling their own cup. We fill our own bottles to bring water on the go. We go through so much water, we prefer the ease of this to the Berkey. My parents have had a Berkey for years and their pond is the water source for their home. You sure wouldn’t know it from the taste of the water.

  • Jenny says:

    We seriously considered a reverse osmosis home system…but the cost of filters/maintenance/etc. was more than we felt comfortable taking on right now…especially if we should decide to move at some point!

    Currently, we fill up empty gallon jugs of reverse osmosis water at the grocery store. We go to the store weekly anyway, and it doesn’t take much time to fill them up. At our local Meijer, it costs only $.39/gallon to fill up. So if we go through a gallon/day, we’re spending roughly $150/year on water. I know our cost will go up as the kids get older (and thankfully hubby has access to free RO water at work).

    Anyway, it’s something you could consider doing in the interim while you decide if you want to get a system. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      You can buy one and install it your self for for $150 and then it is only $40 every 6 months and you don’t have to drive to get refills.

  • Lee says:

    It depends on why you want to change the way your water tastes. We installed a reverse osmosis a year ago. Reverse Osmosis will take out hard metals, which is why we got one (we have well water). You can get a filter that goes on your sink that will take out some things but not everything.

  • Jessica W says:

    while having a filter system built into your home may be less expensive in the long run I don’t think it is the best option if you can’t pay for it with cash or at least most of it with cash…. and then there’s always those who rent… so My family and I switched from bottled water to brita filtered water sometime ago. We’re all athletes so not being properly hydrated was never an option for us. As you pointed out bottled water gets expensive, not to mention it’s bad for the environment. SO if you do the math, currently at the most expensive store in our area the highest price I’ve seen on a 3 pack of filters is 24.99… roughly a little more than $8 a filter. so for that price you basically get all the filtered water that your family can drink for 30 days… if you are paying 2.99 for a 24pack that means 2.5 cases is all you could purchase for the same price!!!! the pitcher itself costs a pretty penny, but watch for sales usually the best ones are at walmart, but I purchased mine at harris teeter on sale a long time ago. additionally brita has pretty consistently released coupons either in sunday papers or online throughout the year. However, whether you can find one or not the filtered water is more cost effective. Additionally one thing I do to “stretch” how long they last is if I am cooking the water I usually don’t use the filtered water for that. Brita also has a pitcher that tells you when your filter needs to be changed… it’s not necessarily accurate but it’s a decent baseline reminder. Like when we left for the summer we weren’t using our pitcher but it was still counting down so I just reset it when we came back … you can also purchase the filters in advance whent hey are on sale I have consistently purchased 3 packs for about 14.99 in my area and sometimes 11.99 and with coupons from the register or brita.

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