The best home water filters for every budget

Having access to clean water is a luxury most of us don’t have to think about on a day-to-day basis. In general, tap water in the United States is pretty good quality, but the water that comes out of our faucets isn’t exactly pure. Just because water meets legal requirements doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice to drink. That’s where water filters come in.

Why do we need water filters?

While water treatment facilities are required to comply with the quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the legal limits for contaminants in tap water haven’t been updated in nearly two decades. It’s unlikely we’ll get sick from drinking tap water here in the U.S., filtering our water can improve the taste and provide some peace of mind.

When we talk about filtering household water, the most popular method is activated carbon filtering. This process involves filtering water through a physical and chemical barrier, which traps impurities as the water trickles through. You’ll see this method used in most water pitcher filters and household filtration systems.

Whether you’re looking to invest in a whole house water filtration system or only have space for a faucet mount, here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from each.

Best Water Filters for Every Budget

Whole house water filtration system

Cost: $$$$

Homeowners who want to improve the water they use to drink, cook, and shower should consider a whole house water filtration system. We’re speaking to homeowners specifically because installing a whole house water filtration system is a significant investment and requires cutting into a home’s main water line to install it.

Many whole house water filtration systems use granulated carbon filters to trap dirt, rust, and impurities before water is routed to faucets and appliances. Other systems operate by reverse osmosis to produce remarkably pure water that is largely free of chemicals, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and dissolved solids. For a whole house water filtration system, we always recommend William Wendling of Oxygen Ozone

Water pitchers and faucet filters

Cost: $

Water pitchers and faucet filters are great options for renters because they’re inexpensive and don’t require installation or home modification. Both types of water filters remove contaminants and provide fresh-tasting drinking water, but there are some advantages and drawbacks to each.

Water pitchers keep water cold, but they have limited capacity and take up a significant amount of fridge space. On the other hand, faucet filters offer unlimited capacity. Something to keep in mind, though, is that they can be obnoxious when doing the dishes.

Brita, PUR, and SOMA all filter out chlorine, reduce lead, and improve the taste of drinking water. We’re partial to SOMA pitchers because they have a beautiful design, are made from BPA-free plastic, and the filters are plant-based. 

Activated charcoal

Cost: $

If you’re not into the idea of using a plastic water filter, pick up some activated charcoal – it naturally bonds with toxins and purifies drinking water without a traditional filter. Simply drop a stick of activated charcoal into a container and fill it up with tap water. One stick of activated charcoal will continue filtering impurities from your water for four months before it needs to be replaced. 

Countertop water filtration systems

$$

If you have a few inches of counter space next to your sink, consider a countertop water filtration system. Like faucet filters, these devices instantly transform tap water into great tasting H2O without having to install a whole-house system. These filters use water pressure to force water through the filtration system, removing more contaminants than water pitchers. In fact, the Aquasana countertop water filter removes 15 times more contaminants than a typical water pitcher, reducing heavy metals, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals from drinking water.

Countertop gravity water filters

$$$

Countertop gravity water filters operate similarly as water pitchers to draw impurities from our drinking water. The major difference is that countertop gravity filters have a larger capacity and don’t need to be filled as often. If you have the counter space, a countertop gravity water filter is a great way to keep a large supply of clean drinking water on hand. 

Big Berkey is one of several sizes of water filters available from Berkey, the most well-known brand of gravity filters. It holds 2.25 gallons of water and a single filter lasts up to five years. The filters have been tested to remove 203 contaminants, filtering 99.99% of viruses and bacteria, pesticides, and more. With Berkey, a separate filter is required to remove fluoride from water. Propur, Alexapure, and Aquacera provide comparable systems for about the same price point.

There are advantages and drawbacks to each type of water filtration system out there. Evaluate what’s most important to you, do a little research, and you’ll be on your way to cleaner, better-tasting drinking water.

Written by  Kate Kasbee

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