What Is A Point of Use Water Filter And How Does It Work?
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Among water filters, various types exist and a point of use water filter is one of them.
We all know how essential water is to our lives, but how much do we think about the quality of the water, in our own homes?
Even though tap water is safe to drink in most Western countries, installing a point of use water filter can improve the quality of your drinking water without draining your wallet.
Choosing tap water over bottled water means a decrease in single-use plastic bottles and is, therefore, an eco-friendly choice.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the benefits of using one or more point of use filters, and we analyze the different types of filters that the market offers.
We also compare point of use filters to whole-house filters, with the aim of, helping you decide which system is more suitable for you.
Finally, we consider the benefits that a point of use filter can have on your health, finances, and environmental footprint.
What is a Point of Use Water Filter?
A point of use (POU) water filter, is a filter that attaches directly to the faucet.
It can either be placed under the sink or attached directly to the tap.
In the first case, it guarantees the purification of the water before it enters the single tap it’s applied to.
In the second case, it purifies the water coming out of the tap, right before reaching your glass or jug.
In both cases, differently from a whole house filtering system, the point of use filter allows you to choose what type of water you want to get, from specific faucets in your house.
The cost of a point of use filter starts at around $30, so it’s very accessible.
A point of use filter is small and easy to install, it’s also far cheaper and more accessible than the whole house filters, which can cost up to $10,000.
Advantage of POU:
The advantage of faucet filters is, that they act only on the water coming out of the single tap, so it’s easy to customize various taps in your house as preferred.
They not only help to purify drinking water but also water used for cooking, showering, gardening, and more.
They require maintenance and replacement every 3-6 months.
Usually, you will need to change filters regularly, but even including their replacement cost, filters are a more economical choice, compared to relying on bottled water.
Substances withheld by point of use water filters include:
- Hard metals
Types of Tap Filters
1. Activated Carbon
This is one of the most common filters on the market.
It uses activated carbon, that has an elevated porosity and specific surface area.
These chemical and physical characteristics allow it to absorb and retain any particles, that may be present in the water, like chlorine, pesticides, and solvents.
These filters do not affect the hardness of the water.
2. Ion Exchange Resin
This type of filter is particularly good if you’re interested in improving the taste, of your tap water.
The ions in the resin reduce the hardness of the water and contribute to softening the taste.
This resin creates a chemical process, resulting in the softening of the water, by withholding calcium, magnesium, and limescale.
This type of filter is very useful in preventing the formation of limescale and producing softer water.
For this reason, it’s particularly adequate for water used in dishwashers and washing machines.
3. Reverse Osmosis
The reverse osmosis is a process that allows the passage of the solvent molecules, from the most concentrated solution to the less concentrated one.
The water enters the filter, and here, a semipermeable membrane catches the contaminants, whilst the filtered water keeps flowing.
Reverse osmosis filters are very efficient, as they can remove up to 99% of contaminating substances in the water.
The disadvantage of this type of filter is, that it can waste a lot of water.
4. Aerator Filter
These filters can be applied at the end of the tap or inside it.
These are physical filters, that are fine enough to stop bigger substances in the water, especially limescale, but they do not filter smaller and more harmful particles.
They’re best known for being water-saving devices, as they sieve and reduce the water flow, allowing you to save on your water bill.
TAPP water offers various faucet water filters, that guarantee clean and softened water.
The filters easily adapt to most taps and assure to remove hard metals, chlorine, microplastics, and substances that may be present in the water.
Prices range from $40 to $100.
PUR faucets filters are certified to remove up to 70% of contaminants including chlorine, pesticides, and metals like mercury.
They’re very easy to install and do not require a replacement filter for three months.
Prices range between $24 and $28.
This filter is durable and provides a good flow of water.
Its design allows you to easily switch, from filtered to regular water.
It easily attaches to the faucet and fits most standard taps.
Prices are usually around $23.
If you experience heavy limescale formations on your appliances, you might want to consider purchasing a scale inhibitor.
A scale inhibitor helps to prevent the formation of limescale inside pipes and appliances, increasing their lifespans.
Have you noticed that when you go on holiday to a different country or region, your hair is a lot softer and lighter?
You’re not necessarily putting a holiday filter on everything, including how good you look!
It could very much be that the town you’re in has softer, cleaner water, reaching your shower.
Shower water can be just as damaging, as drinking water.
The reason why we should filter our showering water is both hygienical and aesthetical.
Using a shower filter can prevent you from breathing harmful airborne substances, in your lungs.
Moreover, your skin and hair can absorb hard components like chlorine and limescale.
These substances can remove the natural protective oils, from skin and hair.
The most visible impact is heavy hair, which easily becomes greased.
Shower filters can be a great help in reducing any hard substances from the shower water and therefore have visible benefits on your skin and hair.
Usually, you can find two types of shower filters:
- An all in one model with an integrated filter, where the filter is applied inside the showerhead
- A filter that needs to be installed between the shower arm and the siphon.
- These are usually easier to apply
The average price range for a shower filter is between $15 and $35.
Recommended Shower Filters
This is a 15 stage filter that effectively removes residues of chlorine, heavy metals, and sulfur smell.
It also prevents the formation of limescale and mold.
Price is around $22
It removes chlorine, contaminating and irritating agents, heavy metals, and unpleasant smells.
Its nine-stage design can also contribute to soften the water and benefit your skin and hair.
Price is around $28
Fridges that also provide chilled water, are usually already equipped with filters.
Regularly replacing used fridge filters, is just as important as replacing tap filters.
Replacements are easily findable and usually provided by the fridge brand itself.
Why Install a Point of Use Water Filter?
Removal of Chlorine
They remove the presence and taste of chlorine.
The water that flows from our home taps, is preventively disinfected with chlorine, to kill pathogens.
Although the human body already contains a certain amount of chlorine, this element, combined with some food like fruit and vegetables, can favor the development of cancerogenic substances.
Therefore, avoiding the ingestion of chlorine can contribute, to reducing the risk of getting cancer.
Reduce Ingestion of Heavy Metals
They reduce the risk to ingest heavy metals.
Unfortunately, the water in some regions or cities can contain heavy metals like lead and nitrates.
Filtering your tap water can reduce the assumption of these dangerous cancerogenic pathogens.
Protection from Pathogens
They protect you from bacteria and parasites.
Although tap water is subjected to disinfecting processes, some microorganisms can survive these treatments.
Ingesting some kind of bacteria or parasites can cause illnesses or other medical issues.
The presence of limescale can reach critical levels for appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and boilers.
Filtered water allows you to keep your domestic appliances functioning correctly and prevents encrusting deposits in your pipes.
Plants don’t love limescale, nor heavy metals or bacteria.
Filtering water is a great way to keep them healthy and favor the growth of flowers, trees, and vegetables.
It’s cost-effective and easy to install.
The cost of POU filters is usually around $30.
Whether they’re under the counter or countertop devices, they’re usually easy to attach to your water line or tap.
Whole House Filter vs. Point of Use Filter
A whole house or Point of Entry (POE) water filter, is a system that is installed at the entry point of your home water line.
That means that the water in all your appliances and faucets will be filtered in the same way.
Whole-house filters are significantly more expensive, with prices ranging from $400, up to $10,000.
As they represent a much bigger investment, you might want to consider purchasing one, when living in an area where water is likely to be contaminated with lead, nickel, mercury, and other harmful substances.
They’re mainly based on the same technology, as a point of use filters, including carbon and reverse osmosis.
The advantage of whole house filters is, that they’re long-lasting; you will only need to replace them once every 5-8 years.
They, however, do not always produce good quality drinkable water.
So make sure you get proper consultation before deciding to install one.
Do I Need a Point of Use Water Filter?
As mentioned before, tap water is thoroughly controlled and safe in most Western countries.
However, impurities in your tap water can still be caused by other factors, so there’s always room for improvement.
A point of use water filter might be a quick and easy solution if your home water regularly or occasionally, has a funny taste or smell.
This could be directly linked to old pipes in your water line.
This is a very common cause, and it can undermine the quality of the water, even though its source is ensured by your local authority.
Old pipes can rust, and that can give red or brown tones to your tap water.
Even sand and other particles can flow into your tap when traveling, via aged pipes.
As the cost of renewing your house pipes can be very expensive, a point of use filter is a great alternative, to have safe and clean drinking water.
Remember that safe and clean water has to be colorless, tasteless, and odorless; these are the basic three characteristics to check when ensuring, that you’re not drinking contaminated water.
Filtering Well Water
Many homes, especially in the countryside, get their water from private wells.
If this is your case, water filtering becomes a vital aspect to consider.
Most private wells are not scrutinized by environmental protection agencies, and will not be guaranteed to provide safe water to your home.
All the types of filters discussed above will be suitable for well water too.
However, you must get well water analyzed by a professional third party first.
Other methods like distillation and disinfection, might be required, to ensure that your well water can safely enter your home.
That might also include chlorination, in the same way as local bodies disinfect public water.
Overall, if you’re looking for a total and comprehensive filtering system, you can choose to install both POE and POU filters.
Benefits of POU
Even though tap water is safe and clean in most developed countries, some cities still experience issues with contaminated and toxic water.
For example, recent reports state that some American cities like Miami and New Orleans, have high levels of toxic components in their drinking water.
It does not harm to install point of use water filters, to improve the quality of your tap water.
When deciding what system is more appropriate for your house, it’s important to consider aspects like the area you live in, how trustworthy your local authority is, and how strict their controls are on public water.
Moreover, having tap water that tastes and smells better, thanks to a point of use filter, can certainly make it easier for you to drink more.
Studies suggest, that we should be drinking at least 2L of water per day, as part of a healthy diet.
The benefits of staying hydrated are countless, including skin hydration, the correct function of key organs, weight loss, and gut health.
Besides, filtered water can contribute to reducing the risk of gastrointestinal disease and disturbances, and even lower the risk of contracting cancer.
As much as chlorine is an essential component in ensuring the water we drink is safe, it can irritate and dry sensitive skin.
Installing a point of use filter on your shower can, therefore, improve the health of your skin and contribute to that extra beauty factor, making the skin softer and hydrated.
Similarly, unfiltered water can cause hair dryness, due to the presence of chlorine, calcium, and magnesium.
Adding a point of use filter to your shower can help you achieve smoother and softer hair, as it will visibly benefit from being washed with lighter, cleaner water.
Choosing to drink tap water over bottled mineral water, impacts your savings directly.
Research suggests that the average American adult spends up to $100 per year per person, on bottled water.
That’s a relevant amount of money when we’re talking about an essential resource, we need to stay alive!
Bottled water is the 2nd most purchased bottled drink in the US, and is up to 2000 times more expensive than tap water.
On the contrary, tap water is incredibly cheap.
In fact, according to Food and Water Watch, tap water is thousands of times cheaper than bottled water, costing around 0.002$ per gallon, against bottled water, that ranges between 0.89$ and 8.26$ per gallon.
The purchase of bottled water has increased in the last years worldwide, mainly due to intense marketing campaigns, but also because of the common perception that it’s safer.
Except for specific areas that could be experiencing water contamination, tap water is as safe as bottled water, in most developed countries.
In some countries, tap water is even subjected to stricter regulations, than bottled water.
Another reason why water filters are cost-effective is, that they reduce the formation of limescale.
That means that your water pipes and appliances will require less maintenance.
Tap water runs free! It’s always there and you can never run out of it.
It does not take space in your kitchen, storage room, or wherever you would be stocking up your bottles of water.
It’s always fresh, and it does not risk being contaminated when stored in warehouses.
The impacts of bottled water production on the environment are significant.
The first aspect is as obvious as it’s devastating; the production of plastic bottles.
Billions of water bottles are produced and thrown each year, in the US alone.
Bottled water takes an exponentially higher amount of energy to produce, compared to tap water.
This includes pollution deriving from the production, transportation, and disposal of water bottles.
The transportation on the road of 100 liters of bottled water for 100km can produce up to 10kg of CO2.
Tap water is a zero kilometer resource, as it does not need to be transported from the factory, to a shop, or ta house.
Some sources state that the point of use filters can reduce the presence of important substances, like calcium and magnesium in tap water.
For this reason, it’s important to choose certified brands and do proper research, before purchasing a filter.
Another counterproductive risk can result from bacteria forming in saturated filters, that are not being replaced regularly.
Make sure you read the indications on your filter, to understand how often you need to replace or clean it.
Most filters last between 3 and 12 months.
In this article, we have analyzed the importance of drinking clean water, and how a point of use water filter can be a great contributor to guarantee that the tap water in your house, is as filtered and safe as possible.
A point of use filter can be the most convenient and efficient choice if your circumstances don’t require a big investment, like a whole house filter.
Consider the area you live in and gather information on the quality of your local water before choosing the right filter for you.
Remember to replace your filter regularly, following the instructions provided by your chosen brand.
Filtering your home water and improving its taste, odor, and overall safety will help you choose tap water over bottled water.
Choosing POU’s will ultimately have a positive impact, on both your finances and the environment.
By considering to use a point of use water filter, you prioritize your health, and you commit to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.