Economics of Bottled Water

Comparison of bottled water costs with the purchase of a water filtration system

Most people who make the decision to purchase bottled water make a long term commitment to providing safe, good tasting water for themselves and their families.  This page examines the comparative costs of purchasing bottled water for that long term commitment vs. the purchase of a high-quality filtration system.  A quality filtration system will last for many years with a periodic filter element change the only ongoing cost.  Bottled water, however, is an ongoing expense - whether you lug water home from a store or have it delivered to you.  

The figures below compare the cost of drinking water from a high quality filtration system costing $330 with the cost of drinking bottled water.  To use figures 1 and 2, calculate approximately how much you spend for bottled water in a month and locate the closest value along the bottom of the chart.  The bar above that number represents the total cost of your bottled water per year (shown by the values along the left side of the chart).  For instance, if you currently spend $25 per month (about $5.77 per week) on bottled water, you will spend nearly $300 over the course of each year.  The one time purchase price of a filtration system (and minimal costs for replacement filters) should be contrasted with the ongoing costs of bottled water.

A high quality filtration system will produce water that is as safe and good tasting as bottled water in the majority of cases for a fraction of the cost.  If you currently purchase bottled water, take a look at your water quality report, if you use municipal water, or check your water tests, if you use water from a private well.  If your water contains contaminants that are significantly reduced by a filtration system, you might want to consider the purchase of a filtration system.

Figure 1 below shows the cost of drinking filtered water for the first year after purchasing a $330 filtration system. The price is amortized across 12 months to give a monthly water cost of $27.50 (rounded to $28 in the chart). The replaceable filter cartridge will remove contaminants from up to 750 gallons of water, an average of 14 gallons per week  for a year (60 gallons per month). The cost of bottled water obviously depends on the provider and on the quantity purchased. Figure 1 demonstrates that if your family currently spends $28 or more per month on bottled water, a high quality filtration system can be purchased for no more than you now spend on bottled water for one year.

The real savings, however, are evident the second year (and continue every year thereafter) when the filter element is replaced (Figure 2). The filter cost ($50) amortized across 12 months is only $4.17 per month. The cost of water, therefore, is just $4.17 for an average of 60 gallons of water per month (that's nearly 14 gallons per week - costing as little as $.07 per gallon). On the other hand, the costs of bottled water will, at best, remain constant each year.


Comparison of Long-Term Costs for Water Treatment

Have you considered how much it will cost to obtain pure, safe water for the next 5, 10, 20, or
    even 40 years?

When you decide to protect yourself and your family from drinking water contaminants, 40
    years may seem like a very long time to think about treatment costs.....

However -

If you plan to use just 10 gallons of purified water a week (less than 1.5 gallons per
    day), the water treatment method you select can mean the difference between
    spending about $1,700 over 40 years or spending more than $31,000 for pure, safe

Click below on the amount of purified water you use (or would like to use) per week.  This will
    display a table and graph comparing the average costs of some common treatment methods
    (bottled water, distillation, reverse osmosis, SBAC filtration, and pitcher filters).

These cost tables (as well as the filter performance tables) convinced me to consider seriously a top-of-the line, Solid Block, Activated Carbon (SBAC) filtration system.  Although the initial cost was higher than many cheaper alternatives, the cost over several years was much lower than other options - at most usage levels.  The fact that SBAC filtration was simpler to use than other methods and significantly reduced all contaminants I was liable to experience in my municipal water, sold me on the technology.  I  I have provided a completedescription of the top-of-the-line SBAC filtration system my family and I use.

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Click on a Topic Below to View the Related Discussion and Links

Concerns About Drinking Water Safety and Quality.
  Children and the Risks of Contaminated Water.

Potential Drinking Water Contaminants and Their Health Effects.
How to Improve the Quality of Your Drinking Water.
  My Recommendation for Quality Water Purification Systems.