Supply your home with clean water for less

From Home Deals: Water: we all need it, and it tastes better when it's filtered. Here are the best deals on water filters, reverse osmosis systems and emergency water filters.

Appliances

Welcome to Home Deals, where we pick out the best deals on things you need for your home, garden and beyond. Like our cousin, the Cheapskate, we'll give you a regular selection of smoking-hot deals, but for house and home. This week, we look at the best deals on water filters.

Water. We all drink it, ranging from straight from the tap to fancy imported sparkling. However you take your water, there are deals out there that can help you improve the quality of your water without splashing out.

In the US, we are lucky. Unlike many places in the world, the water that comes out of our taps is clean, healthy and very drinkable. That's not to say that it couldn't do with a bit of improvement, though: most domestic water supplies contain small amounts of lead and other chemicals, plus bacteria and other unwanted guests. That's where a water filter comes in: by filtering the water, it can get rid of most of these bits of ickiness.

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The PUR Classic 11-Cup pitcher, on sale for $15 at AirFilters.com.

PUR

The easiest way to add this extra filtration is a pitcher filter. You fill the top chamber with water, which passes through a filter and is stored in the bottom. They vary in size from small jugs like the Brita 5-cup ($8.84 at Walmart), up to larger models like the Pur Classic 11-cup ($15 from AirFilters.com), to the Zerowater 23-cup dispenser ($34.99 from Walmart again). You can even put these in the fridge for on-demand, cool, clean water. The downside of these models is that they are big and bulky, and you need to remember to change the filter often: they become ineffective over time. The Zerowater model has an interesting solution to this: it includes a total dissolved solids (TDS) meter, which measures how much gunk is dissolved in the water. If you use this to check the filtered water regularly, you can figure out when to change the filter.

The cost of these filters varies: the best price we could find for the Brita filters was $38.95 for 10 from Amazon, so each filter cost just under $4. The Zerowater filters are a little more expensive: a four-pack will cost you $62 from Amazon. However, Zerowater claims that their filters remove more gunk than others.

For the ultimate in clean water, you want a reverse osmosis (RO) system. These use the pressure of the water to force impurities out, producing water that is as close to pure distilled water as you can get at home. If you are chemically sensitive or prone to infections, these complex devices can make life much easier. I have one because I have a fish tank, and reverse osmosis removes the chlorides, salts and metals that can poison fish, but which sneak into the local water supply. By running the water I fill my tank with through, this, I make sure my fish get clean water that keeps them happy. I use a six-stage system that uses several filters plus a UV light that kills bacteria, These systems are not cheap, though: the best deal I could find on this was $223 at Home Depot. There is also a hidden cost: filters. You have to replace the filters on a regular basis, and a full set that should last about a year will cost you about $70.

You don't need to get as fancy as me to get an RO system, though. There are cheaper options that use the same technology, but just without as many filter stages, like the Yescom five-stage system that NewEgg has for $124.95.

It's always a good idea to have a backup plan, like this Etekcity portable water purifier that is on sale for $15.99 at Amazon. This neat little device has three stages of filtration that can remove over 99 percent of bacteria and other bad stuff. Designed for camping use, this can filter up to 1,500 liters (about 395 gallons) of water, so it's not a bad idea to have one of these under your sink or in your car in case your local water supply gets contaminated and you have no other water source.

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