Saving: Cut down on bottled water

February 20, 2012 5:03:13 AM PST
We all drink it, it is in ample supply and, generally, it is free. So why are so many of us paying for bottled water?

It's quick way to save some money, but for some of you that means you'll need to buy a water filter.

That's the case for Tom Nixon, who won't drink a glass of water in his own home unless it's filtered first.

"You're getting the chemicals out and the added benefit, it tastes great. It tastes better than any bottled water you buy," he said.

Tom's under-sink water filter removes most common contaminants. But it's not the only type of water filter.

Consumer Reports tested more than 40, including ones for under the sink, or on your counter - as well as faucet-mount, reverse osmosis, and carafes.

Testers use water that's been spiked with lead and harmful organics. They run it through the filters then analyze samples to see how well each filter removes the contaminants. They also evaluate the water for taste.

"There were big differences in the filters within each category. But we found filters for every need, whether your goal is cleaner water or better taste," said Chris Regan of Consumer Reports.

Reverse osmosis filters remove the widest range of contaminants, including arsenic. But for every gallon of water they filter, they waste three to five gallons! They also cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

"Our tests found that you could spend 30 dollars or less and still get cleaner, better-tasting water," said Regan.

The top-rated Culligan faucet-mount is a Consumer Reports Best Buy for only 15 dollars. It installs in a snap and scored excellent at removing lead and other contaminants. But the slow flow rate can be frustrating.

You also get cleaner water from a 15-dollar Clear 2-O pitcher. You have to hook the attached hose to your faucet, but it filters water quickly.

Either will quench your thirst for clean, tasty water.

Conspicuously absent in Consumer Reports' ratings of carafes are ones from Brita. As it turns out, Brita no longer claims that its carafes remove lead - which is a key consideration in Consumer Reports' tests.