Q: What are the best options for drinking water in the kitchen?
A: Homeowners have many different choices when it comes to drinking water; making this decision before the kitchen remodel can make everyday life better when it comes to your future fresh water needs, hot or cold.
What option works best for you will depend on your personal circumstances, price range and specific preferences. Here are eight great choices to consider for your new kitchen's drinking water.
Many new refrigerators have cold drinking water filter systems built in, usually on the front of the doors for accessibility. Tubing attaches the system to your home's water supply and the water is filtered immediately before dispense. The dispensing unit often has a lever or a button you can press to dispense the water into a cup.
The system does consume some freezer space, but the convenience of having cool, clean water right in the door is a great help for many families. It also makes things easier on guests when they know where to go for some fresh cool water or ice.
Many homeowners choose to install a separate tap or faucet with a filtration system attached for drinking water. The filter is usually kept underneath the sink in the base cabinet.
If you have a whole faucet system (or even a whole house filter), you can have both hot and cold filtered water if the model allows for it. Most people go for a separate tap, which generally provides only cool water. Prices depend on the provider and the type of system you select. Systems that offer hot and cold water are usually more expensive than cold-water-only units.
Water coolers are one of the best options for drinking water in the kitchen, and are still very popular. They provide fresh drinking water on demand, using a tower dispensing system that, depending on the model, may provide both hot and cold water. A service company delivers bottles of water by truck by subscription and usually handles the maintenance of the cooler.
Providers vary by location. Here in Southern California, Sparkletts and Arrowhead water coolers are ubiquitous. If you live in the United Kingdom, then Angel Springs, the oldest water cooler company in the UK, has a wide range of attractive and sleek systems available.
Designers have made great advances in their looks, but if you're still concerned about the appearance, you can keep your water cooler out of sight by placing it in a dedicated pantry or tall cabinet, which will also save floor space in the kitchen. For best results, this should be decided before remodeling your kitchen.
Bottled water, available from many retailers, is a convenient way to have drinking water in your kitchen but is more costly when compared to more permanent in-home options. Filtered drinking water is pre-packaged for you in plastic bottles that you can buy in various quantities, such as 12 or 24 packs.
Water quality and cost depends on the bottled water manufacturer and your location. You can store bottled water at room temperature, in a cabinet or pantry, or keep some in your refrigerator. It's always great to have some fresh water on hand in case of an emergency, and for most purposes we would consider this a secondary source of fresh water.
If you've spent any time in Europe, as members of our family have, you may have become hooked on sparkling water. If regular old water doesn't cut it for you anymore, SodaStream is a very popular at-home carbonated water and soda maker.
The SodaStream counter top units add the carbon dioxide to the water, producing the distinct fizz associated with carbonated drinks. SodaStream offers a full line of syrups in various flavors, including grape and orange, to add to the water.
Recently, SodaStream teamed up with appliance manufacturer Samsung to release a refrigerator with a sparkling water dispenser built right into the standard water and ice dispenser on the unit's doors. You can choose from three different levels of carbonation and the refrigerator uses SodaStream cartridges for the effect.
Tap water is treated and cleaned by your local water treatment plant before it reaches your home, but the quality and taste will depend on where you live and the time of year. The seasons affect water reservoir quality, so you may find your tap water has a different taste to it in the warmer and colder months.
Tap water safety will, of course, depend on your local reservoirs and the factors that affect treatment and delivery. In some countries, it's downright dangerous to drink, so be sure and ask your neighbors about the tap water if you've recently moved to a new area.
Standalone filters, such as those attached to pitchers made by Brita, give you instant filtered water from your tap water. You fill the filter's container, often a large filter or sports bottle and as you pour, the filter on top of the container cleans the drinking water. Generally, it's a good idea to keep these in your fridge so that you don't run the risk of mold building up from standing water being left out at room temperature.
Have a penchant for hot chocolate or daily coffee? Hot drinking water can be obtained from a variety of sources, including some water coolers that have a hot water option, an electric tea kettle, or a dedicated hot-water faucet with a warmer built in under the sink. For the ultimate convenience, GE recently released a refrigerator that dispenses hot water in addition to the usual cold water and ice.
If you use a lot of filtered hot water for daily cooking or hot drinks, an instant on-tap faucet system is probably the best option in terms of convenience and cost. You can also heat fresh water on the stove-top or microwave if your hot water needs are less frequent and you don't mind the wait.
When you're deciding between the various choices, be sure to weigh all your needs carefully before remodeling your kitchen. You may need a combination of some of the choices to fill all your drinking water needs. Consider both water bottles and a filtration system under your sink, for example, if you have an active lifestyle. Also think about where you will store water bottles in your new kitchen, such as the bottom shelf of a pantry or base cabinet, as it could affect your cabinetry configuration.
Don't forget to compare the costs of each choice if you aren't sure what your budget will allow for. While you can't always pinpoint exact prices, you can estimate your water uses and compare the prices of bottled water versus a water cooler or the installation and upkeep costs for an installed system.
If you have any fresh ideas on the best options for drinking water in the kitchen, let us know! In the meantime, do your body a favor and go drink some good, clean H2O. Bottoms up!