A key component of our water filter review process and methodology includes a cost-of-ownership analysis. As homeowners ourselves, we know that anything you do to your home is a balance between up-front and long-term costs. Sometimes, the cheaper option up front is more expensive in the long run, and sometimes it’s vice versa.
To narrow down the products we review and recommend only the best, we check to see how much these products are going to impact your long-term budget.
This calculation includes the following factors:
Some water filter systems carry substantial price tags. In the end, most people consider this a worthy investment, but sometimes the initial cost can be too much. Many companies offer financing options, which can help defer the cost. But these do include interest payments.
We take this into consideration when conducting a review, but we’ll only exclude a product if the company’s financing is predatory or unfair in some way. It’s impossible for us to know if our readers prefer one option over the other, and we’re not going to take an item off the list simply because you can’t finance it.
Where it is offered, we want to make sure it’s a good, reasonable deal that won’t cost you too much more in the long run.
Many filtration systems require more than just DIY plumbing skills. The majority, if not all, involve cutting pipes and adding fittings. This often looks like a simple job at first, but it can easily turn into a leaky headache if it’s not completely properly.
When we look at products to recommend, we evaluate the installation process to judge how involved it is.
We, of course, can’t predict what your local plumber is going to charge you for the work, but we can toss out products that have unnecessarily complex installation processes so that you can save some money getting your system set up.
All filters, and the media used inside them, have a lifespan. This is usually measured in gallons or liters. Filter manufacturers will try to estimate how long it will take the average person to use enough water to max out the filter media.
We verify these claims by doing some of our own math. Basically, we take the advertised filter capacity and run it against water usage data. This gives us an idea if the filter/media will last as long as it says it will.
We also consider what happens when the filter life ends. Are replacements readily available? Or is the system just done for? Usually, replacements are available, but we want to make sure you can keep using your filter for as long as you own your home.
Assuming replacements are available, we look at how much they cost and how easy they are to get. Some manufacturers require you to buy replacement parts directly from them, whereas others use universal components that can be sourced from many places.
For the most part, we like it when you can get replacements from more than one vendor. It helps keep costs down and ensures you’ll be able to get parts even if something happens to the original manufacturer.
Sometimes, there are different product options, and replacement parts are often the biggest factor in cost of ownership. For example, some filter products are less expensive up front, but the filter media needs to be replaced more often. The cost of these frequent replacements will often exceed the initial cost of the more expensive filter.
If this is the case, we look at how long it will take the more expensive unit to save you money to determine if it’s the better buy.
Many filters have to backwash the filter media to keep it fresh and functioning. This uses water from your supply and sends it the opposite direction through the filter diverted through a drainpipe.
If you’re a private well owner, this doesn’t matter too much, except for the fact that you’re wasting a precious resource. City water users, however, pay for every gallon. Lots of wasted water can rack up monthly bills.
Other filters, such as a reverse osmosis system, use a lot more water since they separate your supply based on what’s in it and flush the bad stuff right down the drain. Salt-based softeners must regenerate to be able to maintain their efficacy. This also uses water.
Depending on where you live, your electric bill may be one of your biggest monthly expenses. While water filters don’t use a ton of electricity, most use some. We look at power requirements and do our best to estimate monthly costs.
We can only use national averages, though, so our exact calculations may differ from what you’ll experience. But this should give you an idea.
The biggest culprit for electricity usage in water filtration are UV purifiers, but other types of filters draw power as well.
You can trust that any product we review has been vetted for its power consumption so that you can keep your monthly utility bills manageable.
Reviews You Can Count On
As part of our rigorous product research and testing methodology, we look at every aspect of buying and owning a water filtration system. Cost of ownership is just one of many important factors we consider as we create product reviews you can count on.