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Comparing Refrigerator Water Filter Systems

The demographics of most of the industrialized world are following a similar trend: our population is aging. Interestingly, a less-than-obvious result of this trend is that there are a lot more people around who are capable of sitting you down and saying: you know what sonny? Back when I was young, we didn't have to worry about drinking water. Nowadays, that ain't the case.

And, like most things that elderly people say, it's true (though, of course, like some things elderly people say, it is annoyingly true). We really do have to be ultra-careful about not just how much water we drink, but where that water comes from. With hopelessly outdated municipal water treatment plants and murky wells that often serve as breeding hubs for sickening bacteria, a massive number of informed people are opting for refrigerator water systems to meet their, and their family's, drinking water needs.

In response to this growing demand for safe drinking water - a demand that is fed by educated consumers and the ceaseless government and media reports of municipal and well-water systems - a number of companies have brought quality refrigerator water systems to the market. Yet while this is something that is to be grateful for, some residual confusion does arise. Specifically, it's unclear which refrigerator water filter system is the best one to choose.

Just like buying a car, a house, a computer, or even lunch, the answer to what is the right Refrigerator Water Filter system is best answered with another question: what is it that you want your Refrigerator Water Filter system to do?

Let's answer this latter question by looking at two criteria -- price and effectiveness - as they relate to four popular Refrigerator Water Filter system brands: Culligan, GE, Kenmore, and Brita.

Price is always the most fun thing to focus on when researching Refrigerator Water Filter systems, because regardless of which brand you select, the cost savings compared to bottled water is remarkable. For example, of the four brands focused on here, the cost per gallon of filtered water are: 10 cents/gallon for Culligan, 9.8 cents/gallon for GE, 11 cents/gallon for Kenmore, and 20 cents/gallon for Brita. Considering that the cheapest bottle of water will cost exponentially more, it's an axiom that Refrigerator Water Filter systems are a better value. This, too, is assuming - quite generously - that we are comparing apples to apples when we put a glass of filtered water next to bottled water; random tests continue to show that, in many cases, bottled water is nothing more than (expensive) tap water. Furthermore, in some tests, bottled water was actually worse than the unhealthy tap water to begin with, thanks to that shiny chemical coated plastic. So, across the board, Refrigerator Water Filter systems offer value, whether it be a low end 9.8 cents/gallon from GE, or a higher end (but still mega-cheap) .20/cents a gallon from Brita.

Looking at effectiveness is just as much fun as looking at price, but it's a bit more complicated. This complexity isn't the fault of the Refrigerator Water Filter system manufacturers. Truly: is it the fault of a doctor when patients start showing up in waiting rooms with all kinds of horrid symptoms that have six-syllable names? No. Neither is it the fault of Refrigerator Water Filter system manufacturers when new and scary things continue to weave their way into tap and well water systems; things that eerily remind you of chemistry class in high school.

However, focusing on the effectiveness of these Refrigerator Water Filter systems is not an insurmountable challenge. To simplify the process, instead of looking at all of the various things that these filters block out, we'll focus on the big four that most consumers find the most harrowing: chlorine, lead (ack!), cysts, and Trihalomethanes or "THMs". (Yes, that's right, Trihalomethanes. Bless me? Thank you, but I didn't sneeze.)

With respect to blocking chlorine, of the four refrigerator water filter manufacturers that we're looking at, Kenmore and Brita lead the way with a 99% effectiveness, followed swiftly by Culligan and GE, which block 97% of chlorine.

As far as getting the "lead out" of your water, Brita leads the way once again at 99%, followed by GE at 98%, then Culligan at 95%, with Kenmore rounding up the pack at 92% lead prevention.

In terms of removing cysts, Brita, GE, and Culligan all provide 99% effectiveness. Importantly, Kenmore does not provide any protection from cysts; something that may influence a buying decision, such as added protection for those currently using Kenmore's widely respected system.

Lastly, looking at THMs, Kenmore redeems itself with a 99% effectiveness rating, followed by GE and Culligan at 95% each. Brita, which has on the last three criteria been at the top of each list, doesn't show up on this one; it does not block THMs.

So which system is the best? Again - and not to take the easy way out - we must answer that question with the same question we relied on before: what matters to you, personally? Virtually all Refrigerator Water Filter systems do an awesome job of blocking out harmful elements in your glass of tap water. Some do a better job than others when it comes to specific dangers, however. An important factor in deciding which Refrigerator Water Filter system is right for you will depend significantly on what problems you need to solve. For example, if in your neck of the woods (or the city) lead in your water system is a big issue, you'll likely want to select a system that has exceptional lead-protection, such as Brita's. However, if getting rid of THMs is a priority, then Brita isn't going to solve that particular problem. It really depends on what refrigerator water filter system works best for you.

So, to really find the answer to this question - and to have us stop annoying you by answering questions with questions - the next step is to do some focused research on the Refrigerator Water Filter systems that are available to you. Focus on cost, but do not get lost in the numbers; different systems will do different things. Thankfully, however, regardless of what Refrigerator Water Filter system you use, you'll be making your, and your family's, drinking water profoundly safer.

Many years ago, as our elderly neighbors accurately remind us, none of this was necessary. Water was water. Regrettably, it's not that simple anymore; but it need not be a dangerous or burdensome problem. Become more informed, do some research, and contact knowledgeable sales people. In no time at all, you'll be sitting on your porch, remembering the good old days, when Refrigerator Water Filter systems were refrigerator water filter systems...

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