We've pinched and reorganized our household budgets. But we still often overpay for commercially bottled water. On an annual basis, the typical American consumer spends $1,400 on bottled water vs. 49 cents for the same amount of water from our kitchen faucet, according to the Center for a New American Dream, a nonprofit consumer group in Maryland.
Bottled water does not taste better, according to blind taste tests, and tap water must meet stricter safety measures. New American Dream has just launched a national educational campaign designed to promote filtered water from the kitchen sink.
To help you calculate how much more you may be spending for bottled water, New American Dream provides a cost calculator at www.newdream.org/water. By plugging in how many bottles of water your family consumes each year and the retail costs of that water, you'll find out how much you could save by switching to filtered tap water.
Consider these numbers: A gallon of water from your kitchen sink costs about $.002, which is less than one cent, based on the national average. In contrast, you'll pay on average about $1.50 for a 20-ounce container of bottled water. What's more, about 40 percent of the bottled water sold in stores is tap water, according to New American Dream. Fortunately, there are cheaper alternatives. For the home, there are filtering systems that include simple counter-top pitchers (for less than $20). There also are elaborate filters for the faucet. And when we're away from home, portable but reusable bottle filters enable you to filter water from faucets and drinking fountains.
Here are tips for saving money with do-it-yourself filtered water:
—A local water safety report can help you decide what type of filter is best for your home. Ask your local water company for a Consumer Confidence Report, which measures contaminants.
—Stay chilled. To avoid impulse or emergency purchases of water bottles, keep a stock of cold water in reusable, nontoxic bottles in your refrigerator.
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