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Choosing a Water Filter
Water filters are available in a wide and sometimes confusing range of types and prices. The technical terms used can sometimes be confusing and before making a big purchase you should satisfy yourself that the water filter has enough capacity to handle all your drinking water needs.
Home water filters vary from simple jug or bottle filters with basic charcoal filters to serious water treatment filters that produce crystal clear water of far higher quality than municipal tap water.
Cost is certainly a major factor but there are some outstanding deals in home water filters.
Keeping your budget in mind, consider how much you spend on bottled water each week. Bottled water comes in 2 liter or 5 liter plastic bottles and depending on the plastic used by the bottler, the taste of the plastic may be better. Many brands of bottled water are just bottled tap water. Municipal tap water usually contains various chemicals and possibly microorganisms
The average household drinks 30 to 40 liters of water per week and that works out to over $1500 a year! That’s for basic supermarket bottled water – fancy imported water will cost double or triple. That would buy a pretty fancy tapwater filter.
Here is a breakdown of the different types of water filters available:
Jug type water filter – usually Brita is the most popular and a good choice as it comes with a good filter cartridge. It is possible to use cheap supermarket cartridges but they often leave an aftertaste and don’t last long. There is a counter top model that uses the same Brita filter and a large reservoir for the filtered water/filter that lasts about 2 months. Most jug type filters are designed to fit inside the refrigerator door. The lids on these types of filters are sometimes fragile.
Cartridges are widely available.
Refrigerator Filters – These are plumbed into the refrigerator. It is an easy to use filter that needs to be replaced every 6 months. The main advantage is that cold drinking water is always available on tap
Under sink water filters. These are plumbed into your kitchen faucet and provide clean water at the faucet. They have the disadvantage of not removing microorganisms. Should be replaced every 2 or 3 months, a new cartridge will cost about $30. Some units have a charcoal and ceramic cartridge, and the charcoal cartridge needs to be replaced regularly. The ceramic cartridge needs to be cleaned and can usually be reused.
Multi stage filters. It is often a multi part filter system that may consist of three different filters. These are usually pumped systems so they require a power supply. First is a sand or gravel filter that removes organic matter (peat etc.) followed by a charcoal filter that removes larger particles and then a ceramic filter that filters out many microorganisms. A refinement of this type of filter is the UV (ultra violet) filter which kills microbiological organisms such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium which are two of the main causes of stomach upset from the water supply. Multi-stage filters are basically similar to filters used to filter water in aquariums for tropical fish, but on a larger scale. They can also be fitted under counter units.
A more advanced filter is called a reverse osmosis filter. Although this filter produces excellent quality water, the process is rather slow and it may take time to process enough for a large family.
Whole house water filters are much larger but work similarly to multi stage water filters. They are correspondingly more expensive and many whole house water systems are designed for different house sizes. These will filter all water coming into your home and can also be incorporated with a rainwater collection system to reduce your water costs and needs. Consider how many bathrooms, toilets and water-dependent machines (dishwashers, washing machines, etc.) you own when making your decision.
Advances in water filtration are always being made but these are the basic categories of water filters currently available
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