Do you buy bottled water from the store? If so, this is an easy money-saving opportunity underneath your nose! Believe me, it's easy to save money on drinking water.
You can save approximately $400 per person in your household each year by switching from bottled water to drinking filtered tap water instead.
Today, I'm going to show you how we save money on drinking water. We drink tap water. But, we pay pennies instead of dollars to drink bottled water-quality water.
At first, I'll show you what we do to drink delicious tap water at home. Then, I'll show you how you can save $400+ a year on drinking water.
Our Drinking Water
Our house has a chlorinated city water supply. For the ultimate health benefits, we filter our tap using reverse osmosis. This is the reverse osmosis system we use.
The initial fees to get an undersink reverse osmosis system is around $200. I recommend reverse osmosis if you own a home and are serious about drinking some high-quality H20.
If you rent or plan on moving soon, get a filter pitcher. Smaller pitchers fit in your fridge while larger ones may need to stay on your countertop. Just decide how much water you need and if it needs to be cold or room temp. Filtered pitchers have lower upfront costs but can cost more as you buy replacement cartridges more often. And, they don't always remove as many contaminants.
Our Reverse Osmosis System: iSpring RCC7AK 6-Stage
Tap water tastes disgusting for most people. And, you don't really want to know what's in tap water.
I think anybody who drinks city water should have it filtered in either using a filter you can buy at your local store like Brita or a more advanced purification method like reverse osmosis. You might also need a filter if on well water, especially if it has a strong taste or odor. There is enough medical evidence to show a correlation between drinking water and certain medical conditions.
Unfiltered tap water in most cities taste horrible because of the chemicals used to disinfect it & those same chemicals (plus a host of other contaminants already in the water) can cause negative short-term & long-term health effects.
Why Do People Drink Bottled Water?
Why is bottled water so popular? Bottled water is convenient, it doesn't taste like a swimming pool, or doesn't contain nasty contaminates like what is being reported in the municipal water supply of Flint, Michigan right now. You might not trust the best water filter in the world if an expert deems your water “toxic.”
There are a plethora of reasons to drink bottled water and there also a lot of reasons not to drink bottled water exclusively. Ultimately that decision is yours, but if you or somebody you know primarily gets their daily fluid intake from bottled water, I'm here to help show cost-effective ways that you can drink great-tasting water directly from your faucet again! I want to show you how to save money on drinking water.
Environmental Impact Of Bottled Water
Before we get into the money aspect of bottled water vs. tap water, I want to highlight the impact all those empty bottles of water has on the environment.
- The average American consumes 167 plastic bottles each year.
- Just in the United States, 50 billion plastic water bottles are consumed every year.
- Of those 50 billion bottles, only around 25% are recycled. The rest go into the landfill or discarded along the road, hiking trails, etc.
- It is estimated that in the Pacific Ocean, the amount of plastic waste is the size of Texas.
- It took 17 million barrels of oil to produce those 50 billion plastic bottles.
These statistics are only focused on plastic bottles consumed in the United States. That doesn't include the other 190+ other nations in the world or the host of other consumer applications that plastic is used in like food packaging & consumer goods packaging.
I don't think we should volunteer ourselves back into the Stone Age, but plastic water bottles are only one problem in the 21st century as we talk about the end of cheap natural resources, easily accessible land to bury trash, and carbon footprints.
How does this relate to personal finance? It costs money to buy, refine, and produce finished goods from resources that are located underneath our feet. The law of supply & demand works in multiple ways. If the demand of water bottle remains or increases above the 50 billion threshold but the supply of material decreases, the production costs increase which means the price the bottled water will increase. What is cheap today might not be as affordable five years from now.
Health Effects Of Plastic Bottles
One other quick point I want to make is the health effects of plastic. The plastic water bottles you buy in the stores (i.e. Gatorade, Aquafina, Dasani) are designed for single-use only. They are made of #1 PET plastic that is relatively fragile and will slowly leach chemicals into whatever fluid is in the bottle. The gallon-sized jugs (what milk also comes in) is made from #2 HDPE and it isn't much better than #1 PET.
The plastic leaches when exposed to hot temperatures and can occur during shipping, storage, or sitting in your car on a hot summer day.
Have you ever bought name brand bottled water from the store and it tasted like plastic? I have and unfortunately, we were already back on the interstate so we couldn't exchange for a new one. 🙁 Sometimes, that plastic taste leaches into the water during shipping or storage before the consumer even buys it.
Also if you refill the plastic bottles with your own water, you run the risk of consuming chemicals that leach from the plastic bottle, because the #1 & #2 plastics are not intended for long-term use.
Over time, the long-term consumption of plastic can become carcinogenic and cause cancer within your body. There are other potential health effects from exposing yourself to plastic and it doesn't just apply to water bottles.
This is why you see certain brands of water, milk, and juices in glass bottles. Glass is the purest carrier material to hold liquids because the bottle doesn't leach nasty stuff into the liquids inside it.
Because glass is fragile and might spell disaster with little children or while traveling, you can also try to purchase a Stainless Steel Water Bottleor a Nalgene bottlethat uses a higher-quality plastic and are also BPA-Free.
How does this relate to personal finance? Not only can the exclusive consumption of bottled water cost you more money from the start, but it can also be attributed to increased medical costs later on. Also plastic can serve as an endocrine disruptor, so sensitive people can experience near-term health effects too.
I'm not a medical professional and plastic is only one potential contributor to negative long-term health effects. I also believe we should try to limit our exposure to the various sugars, herbicides, pesticides, and preservatives that are applied to our foods before it's even packaged in plastic.
Financial Impact of Bottled Water
Now that we've covered the environmental impact and potential negative health effects of plastic bottles, let's talk about where you might feel the pinch first. Your wallet!
Bottled water is most expensive when purchased from vending machines or at gas stations. At $1.00 to $1.35 per bottle, it is way more expensive than a gallon of gas. Same goes for coffee shops. Convenience for any product comes at a cost.
Bottled Water vs Filtered Tap Water Cost Comparision
I am going to use a cost comparison to help illustrate the potential savings by drinking filtered water instead of bottled water.
The recommendation from most health and government experts is to consume 64 oz. (half gallon) of water each day.
Bottled Water Example
For this example, I am going to use Nestle Pure Life as our benchmark for bottled water. It comes in a 24 pack, which means it should be cheaper because it has been purchased in bulk and a family will go through this in a day or two. The bottle size is 16.9 oz. which is a fairly average sized bottle and also means you need to pack less of them if you leave the house.
Total Price For 24 bottles: $6.99
Cost per bottle: 29.1 cents
Cost per ounce: 1.7 cents
Daily Cost Per Person To Get Recommended Intake of 64 oz.: $1.16 (Rounded up to 4 complete bottles, is really 3 & 3/4 bottles to get 64 oz.)
Yearly Cost Per Person Consuming 4 Bottles Every Day: $423.40
Cost For Filtered Water:
Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher, 10 Cup
This filtered water pitcher can be purchased at your local department store or on Amazon. In fact, it is the #1 selling filter pitcher on Amazon as of this article! This Brita can filter up to 300, 16.9 oz water bottles before the filter needs replaced. That's 40 gallons of water. One filter will last roughly 2 months if one person consumes the recommended 64 oz. of water each day (that's 30 gallons of water a month).
Initial Cost Of Pitcher (Includes Filter): $27
Cost of replacement filter: $5.00 every 40 gallons or 2 months
Cost Per Filtered Ounce: .001 cents
Daily Cost Per Person: 6.4 cents
Annual Cost Per Person: $30
That is an annual savings of $393 per person!!
For a family of four, that's a savings of $1,572.
The cost savings can vary (more savings or fewer savings) depending on the brand of bottled water or the water filter you choose to use. Depending on the tap water quality, the filter might not last as long as expected so expenses might increase.
Every person will have different qualities of tap water, so I encourage you to do your own calculations and choose the most cost-effective method.
Is Bottled Water Better Than Tap Water?
There is also some debate on just how “pure” some bottled water labels are. The argument is that some brands of bottled water are effectively nothing more than putting lipstick on a pig. These brands filter municipal water with a carbon filter, bottle it, and put a nifty label on it to make it look like it came from the opposite end of the globe.
But the sad fact about bottled water (up to 40%) is that it might be no different than if you had filtered it yourself. So you might essentially be paying a premium price for a regular product.
If you are going to buy bottled water, try to get water that has been purified by reverse osmosis or ultrafiltration (it's the same thing as reverse osmosis).
Although the list is a little dated, the Environmental Working Group put together a survey in 2011 that graded over 100 different bottled water labels. If you are into healthy or clean eating, you might be familiar with the EWG because of their annual Dirty Dozen list that names the 12 most pesticide-containing fruits and vegetables.
Where Can I Get More Information On Water Filters?
Maybe you chose to drink bottled water because you thought it was the most purified water available. Maybe it's because you didn't realize that making your own filtered water was so affordable and easy.
It can be overwhelming to sift through the many different brands and types of filters available.
For more information on the various drinking filters available, I encourage you to visit Pure Water At Home.
Are You Going To Take The Plunge?
Has this post given you new information that you did not know before about bottled water? I hope so.
I never really looked at the specific price difference between buying bottled water & using a filter. But there is a noticeable savings that I think any full-time bottled water drinker should consider.
If not for the price, there are health & environmental benefits to drinking filtered water from a reusable container.
So I encourage you to give your tap a try once again. A filter requires a little upfront investment but will save money for years to come.
Do you filter your own water? How so? Will you only drink bottled water?
Please feel free to share your thoughts below!
Josh founded Money Buffalo in 2015 to help people get out of debt and make smart financial decisions. He is currently a full-time personal finance writer with work featured in Forbes Advisor, Fox Business, and Credible.