Counting the Cost of Bottled Water

This handy calculator shows how much money customers save by using filter tap water instead of the bottled stuff

Counting the Cost of Bottled Water

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Of course it’s preaching to the choir to say this in TPO, but bottled water is at best unnecessary and at worst a waste of money and a scourge on the environment.

Now there’s a quick way for you to show your customers how much bottled water really costs — to their pocketbooks and to the planet Earth. It’s created by Eugen Nikolajev, a blogger based in the United Kingdom.

His blog, Drinking Water Base, contains information about all manner of water treatment topics and products, from kitchen tap water filters to water softeners and reverse osmosis systems. He includes descriptions of various kinds of reusable drinking water bottles.

A simple tool

Arguably the most interesting item on his blog is the Cost Savings Calculator. “There is no surprise that plastic is terrible,” Nikolajev says. “We hear it every day in the news: Plastic pollutes oceans across the world . . . One of the biggest contributors to this is bottled water. Not only is it expensive, but nearly 70% of all plastic bottles end up in the landfill.”

The calculator is simple to use. Customers can calculate how much money they could save in a year based on how much bottled water they use. The cost saving figure is based on a comparison of bottles against filtered tap water. The tool also calculates the difference in impact on the environment based on greenhouse gases save from plastic bottle production and the amount of plastic kept out of landfills.

Adding it up

So, let’s walk through a basic calculation. Suppose a family of four goes through 100 16-ounce bottles of water per week, buying the water by the case of 24 bottles, at $4 per case (about 17 cents per bottle).

Now assume that instead they use a pitcher water filter that costs $35, with filter cartridges that cost $6 and need replacing every three months.

According to the calculator, this family would save $825 in the first year and $860 in succeeding years (more saving after the first year because the pitcher is a one-time cost). About 950 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions would be eliminated, and 3,640 plastic bottles kept out of landfills (this assumes that about 30% of the bottles would have been recycled).

Naturally the savings would be greater if instead of filtering the water (which most utilities would say is not at all necessary), the customers would drink it straight from the tap. To make this simple adjustment in the calculator, just enter zero for the cost of the filter device and replacement cartridges. In the above example, the savings would be $884 every year.

Useful resource

Many utilities promote tap water, and discourage bottled water, as a way to emphasize the quality of their end product. That effort can’t be hurt by showing customers how much bottled water really costs — when drinking water from the tap costs next to nothing. 

If you want to take this calculator for a spin, or if you would like to share it with your customers, visit


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