Green Business Bureau Blog
Ditch Your Bottled Water: Choose a Water Filter
Many businesses provide bottled water for employees — in a vending machine or from the company’s cafeteria. The cost per gallon of bottled water is more expensive than gasoline according to Readers Digest. More than 10 million barrels of oil are used to make bottled water. Americans discard more than 60 million water bottles a day, which is 22 billion bottles each year. Some water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade, according to Eating Well magazine.
A more cost-effective and long-term solution is to install a water filtration system in an office or building. Water filtration can be as simple as a Brita-style carafe, great for small businesses; it can be as comprehensive as a whole-building system filters water as it enters the building. Most water filters have o-rings to help facilitate a water-tight seal between the filter sump and head. According to filtersfast.com, an o-ring should be replaced every two filter changes to protect your water filter system from leaks. Some water-filtration companies analyze water for free as part of its sales processes. This is a good way to start. After you have had your water analyzed, you can choose which of the following four primary types of water filters, according to Consumer Reports, will best fit your needs:
For a business with just one or two people at the location, a carafe will work, but if the office staff is larger and drinks more than a gallon or two of water per day, a carafe will not meet the office needs.
Manufacturers includeBrita and Pur. Carafe and filter systems range in price from $10 to around $50.
The disadvantages of carafe filters are that they are slow, may clog easily and need frequent filter replacements, according to Consumer Reports. Continuing costs can be high as filter cartridge life is short. Businesses will want to stock several so an employee can change the filter easily.
Photo of a Brita Carafe Filter by pjohnkeane via Flickr
Faucet-mounted filters are a cinch to install. You simply unscrew the faucet aerator and replace it with the filtering device. Most models come with adapters so they fit faucets threaded on the inside or outside. Some models include an indicator light or signal when the filter needs to be changed, according to Consumer Reports.
Prices range from under $20 to as much as $100. The filter must be monitored by someone and changed as needed.
Although not having to hire a plumber is a plus, faucet-mounted filters are really carafe filters that fit the faucet. They are slow when used for filtering water and require frequent filter changes. In some cases, they may not fit on the end of your faucet.
Photo of a Brita faucet filter by gocarts via Flickr
Countertop Water Filters
Countertop filters screw on the faucet after you remove the aerator. The filter system is larger, lasts longer and removes more contaminants than smaller filters. However, they take up counter space and may be difficult to locate in a business with little or no counter space. These are priced from $60 to more than $250. A plumber is not needed for installation. Most filter cartridges last for 500 gallons of water, according to datcp.wi.gov.
An inconvenience for businesses is the need to assign someone to periodically check the filter and change it when needed. Replacement costs for the filter can be costly — dependent on how efficient the filters are and how many contaminants the filter removes.
Photo of a Countertop Filter by Sam Bald via Flickr
These plumber-installed single filter units take under-the-counter space. A hole is drilled in the counter top for water outlet. Depending upon the manufacturer, the number of contaminants removed varies from only a few to over sixty. Under-the-counter filters and countertop units commonly handle great amounts of water, according to Consumer Reports. Filter cartridge replacements are about the same as the countertop units. Someone needs to be responsible for filter changes.
The filters start at around $80 and can easily exceed $200.
Photo of a Culligan under-the-counter filter by Average Jane via Flickr
Reverse Osmosis filters
Reverse osmosis is a good technology for removing many contaminants from water and is the only method approved for removing arsenic from water.
Costs range from $130 to $500.
Businesses must deal with the high cost of acquisition — the filters waste up to three gallons of water for every gallon filtered, according to Consumer Reports, and need to be cleaned with bleach on a regular basis. As this system uses a porous membrane for filtering, it eventually needs to be replaced.
Photo of an RO water filter by Nat Tarbox via Flickr
Whole Location Filters
Initial costs are higher and installation requires some minor plumbing work. However, filter life is the longest of any water filtration system and all the water is filtered as it placed at either the inlet pipe or the cold-water distribution pipe. Less contaminants are removed than from a reverse-osmosis filter but the system is attractive to business owners with a large facility that has more than one break area, according to Consumer Reports. Usually, these businesses have a maintenance department to monitor the system and replace filters.
These filters start at the $50 mark and can go as high as $1,000.
Photo of a whole location filter by USDAgov via Flickr