Best Inexpensive™ Water Filters—Pitcher, Under-Sink, Countertop

You need to stay hydrated, that’s for sure, but is the tap water in your home safe? It is considered generally safe if it comes from a public water system in the United States, such as one run and maintained by a municipality.

When drinking water leaves a treatment plant on its way to your house, it must meet strict safety standards. That doesn’t mean that your water is free of all contaminants, but that the levels of any contaminants don’t pose any serious health risk. And it sure doesn’t mean it’s going to taste good. Or comply with your doctor’s orders should you have a health issue with chlorine and or fluoride, present in most municipal water.

Having some method of filtering the water you drink and cook with is the best way to assure great tasting water without the high cost of having to haul bottled water into the house. And you have choices for how to do that.

Based on lots of research, testing, and tasting here are my picks for the Best Inexpensive™ filtering pitcher, under-sink reverse osmosis, and countertop filtering system.

FILTER PITCHER

The field is crowded with lots of choices, but for the money, I don’t think you can beat the highly improved Brita Everyday Water Pitcher with 1 Filter and that’s mostly because of its Brita Longlast Replacement Filter, which will filter 40 gallons of water before it needs to be replaced—about every two months. At a 10-cup capacity, this pitcher holds enough filtered drinking water for a family, provided it is filled regularly.

The pitcher is completely BPA-free; filters are quick and easy to change, don’t require pre-soaking, and don’t leave black flecks in your water. The filter promises to reduce chlorine taste and odor, copper, mercury, and cadmium. Expect Brita Pitcher to be around $30;  Longlast Filters about $15 each.

UNDER-SINK WATER FILTRATION

If you’re serious about home water filtration, it won’t be long before you ditch the pitcher in favor of a reverse osmosis system, which is what we have in our home. This is a fairly simple installation that goes in the cabinet under the sink, but something that can get pricey if you simply call a water service or plumbing company and accept whatever product they’re selling that day.

There’s a much cheaper way to do this that promises fabulous results: Buy a high-quality system yourself and perform the installation too if you have basic plumbing skills. Or once the system arrives, call a plumber to install it. Either way, you’re going to come out a winner if you go with my pick for the Best Inexpensive: APEC Top Tier 5-Stage Ultra Safe Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filter System. Remarkably, this system requires no electricity, working with gravity and water pressure to produce wonderful drinking water.

For starters, it removes 99% of contaminants including arsenic, chlorine, lead, fluoride, heavy metals, bacteria, virus and more, and that’s a very good start! Check it out to learn more. Plan on replacing filters approximately every 12 to 36 months. Complete system: about $185. One replacement filter set about $32.

COUNTERTOP WATER FILTER SYSTEM

If you prefer a more robust system that guarantees 2.25 gallons of purified water available at all times (enough to take care of daily drinking and cooking needs for 4-16 people), consider my pick for Best Inexpensive in this category: Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters. Each purification element has a lifespan of 3,000 gallons; each Fluoride Filter can filter up to 1,000 gallons.

Granted, Berkey is big. But if you have space, it’s a great system because of its power to purify even seriously contaminated water. It is without a doubt, the runaway favorite of folks who are prepared for disasters. I don’t have room for this in my kitchen but in the basement? As a secondary source of pure water? Oh yes!  Complete system, from about $290.

Confused about the best and least expensive way to guarantee you’re drinking purified water that also tastes good? Grab a calculator. Compare how much your household is spending on bottled water per day, week or month. Then multiply to get to an annual cost.

How does that number compare with the price of say a Brita Filter Pitcher (consider both the purchase price and the cost of replacement filters)? How long would it take to recoup the cost of a better system, when you consider that you will stop buying bottled water?

Or if the idea of having only 10 cups of water available compared to a constant supply (under-sink reverse osmosis) or a super big amount sitting there in a big shiny countertop container, crunch those numbers, too.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

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  • Shane Adair Roginski

    We bought the APEC system in 2015. My husband did the install (fairly handy, not a pro) and it works wonderfully. We have well water and could not stand the taste (and I think it gave him headaches). We had delivery for several years, then used the machines in town to refill (what a pain!). This system solved it all for us. No more expensive delivery, no more lugging 5 gallon bottles. Tasty tap water. Highly recommended!

    • Fantastic response, Shane. So happy to hear this. Sounds like your hubby is more than fairly handy … I’d say semi-pro!

  • Donna S

    I am elated to see your recommendation for the Berkey water filter! I have had one for over a year now and love it. I chose the travel size. My daughter and her family have the largest size. It is important to me to be able to remove the fluoride, as well as other dangerous contaminates, from the city water- Berkey provides the best way for me. The link to Amazon offers a great deal to your readers. Thank you so much for recommending this great product.

    • Happy to hear about your Berkey joy!

  • Jan T

    Just curious – have you found a way to stop algae from forming in the Brita pitcher? I wash it when I see algae forming, but it always comes back. Any ideas?

  • quilts4me

    We had an older Brita pitcher and filter system. One day I filled a water bottle with the filtered water and as I was going to take a drink a strong smell of chlorine made me push it away. Went out and bought a ZeroWater pitcher and filter. No problems now.