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How to improve the water quality in your home

Stop blowing big bucks on bottled water! “Today” contributor Lou Manfredini suggests the best in filtration systems.
/ Source: TODAY

Are you pouring money down the drain? Do-it-yourself expert and “Today” contributor Lou Manfredini explains how you can purify the water in your own home.

Water of course is very important to our health. It makes up on average 60 percent of our body weight. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the typical family consumes 300 gallons of bottled water a year. The average cost of bottled water is $1.25 a gallon. Based on the price of gas these days, that seems pretty cheap. But consider the cost of a 20-ounce bottle you’d buy at a convenience store at, say, 99 cents or higher, and you can see that the cost of clean drinking water is very high.

In addition, many argue that the bottled water industry is loosely regulated and that it’s hard to know what the quality of that water truly is. While there may be some merit to that line of thinking, I believe the larger national beverage companies do a pretty good job of delivering good quality water.

To help consumers concerned about what they're buying, the EPA has developed the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), which lists all of the drinking water facilities across the country ( Of course the raw source makes a huge difference. States near the Great Lakes start with pretty good water before it is filtered, while many central and southern states have a poorer quality of source water. Do-it-yourself kits to test the water quality in your home are now available to test chemical levels and sediment.  These tests cost less than $15 ( and will give you quick results as to the overall quality of your drinking water.

Home water-filtration systems have been around for years and have become even more sophisticated and better at cleaning up the water we drink. For a small investment, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and deliver clean water right in your own home. Keep in mind that a water filtration system is not the same as a water purification system. The systems below will not create clean drinking water from contaminated water like the issues facing victims of Hurricane Katrina.

There are all different price points when it comes to these systems. The most economical are the pitcher systems. They require no plumbing, and are as easy as filling a pitcher from the tap. One of the leading makers of filtering pitchers is Brita. Their pitchers will filter out sediment and reduce chemical levels of chlorine, Benzene, lead, mercury, and others in your drinking water. And the cost is less than $30. You will need to replace the filters, but these pitcher units are by far the best entry point in filtering drinking water.

A slight step up are the units that screw onto your kitchen faucet. These filters clean the same contaminants as the pitcher units, but offer more convenience since there is nothing to fill. They cost only a little more and also require filter changes, but they will provide you with more filtered water at a single or multiple use.

When it comes to filtering water, the larger the filter the better unit. Single stage filtering systems are the next step up; they range in price from $100 to $200. These filters, such as the Aquifer Filtration System by Kohler, will reduce more of the particulate and other chemicals that smaller units cannot achieve. Kohler, being in the faucet business, also offers models with the filtration system already incorporated.

Finally, the most effective water filtration systems available to homeowners are reverse osmosis filtration systems. With a combination of carbon filters and membranes, these systems filter out up to 99 percent of contaminants from your drinking water. A unit like the GE Smart Water System can filter out particles that are 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

For more information, or to submit  questions about improving your home, e-mail Lou Manfredini at .