Woman with a water filter pitcher.

Choosing a water filter for your home or office can be overwhelming.

With all the different filter types from, pitchers to reverse osmosis systems, not to mention the sheer number of brands available, it can be difficult to know where to start.

So if you are asking yourself questions such as ‘What pollutants does my water contain?’, ‘What type of filter do I need?’ or ‘Which type of water filter is best’, use the following simple steps to help you choose the right water filtration system for your needs and budget.

Step 1 – Find Out What’s In Your Water

The first step in how to choose a water filter system for your home is to find out what pollutants are in your water, so you are informed on what to remove.

You should be able to get details from your water supplier, who carry out annual reports on the quality of the water in your area.

You can also test the water yourself, either via a home water test kit, which should give you a broad overview of the quality of your drinking water, or via an independent laboratory.

Take a look at What is in Tap Water for more information on this area.

Step 2 – Set Your Budget

If you are on a budget and want an effective filter that doesn’t cost much, a simple carbon water filter pitcher may suffice.

Water filter pitchers, such as the popular Brita ones, offer an effective way to reduce a number of pollutants at a very low cost.

However, if you want a more permanent water filter solution or more powerful filtration, you’ll need to decide which type of filter you want or best suits your needs.

More powerful filters of course cost more, but many such as faucet filters are still fairly inexpensive.

Your ultimate decision will likely be driven by both cost and the type of pollutants you are looking to reduce or remove.

Step 3 – Decide Which Water Filter Meets Your Needs

Activated carbon water filters, such as those found in many water filter pitchers, can effectively reduce, or remove, heavy metals such as lead, contaminants such as chlorine, pesticides and parasites and some volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Whilst these contaminants may not generally be acutely toxic, they may still have compounding long term health effects, making their removal advisable.

However, if you wish to remove a wider range of contaminants then you’ll need to employ a different type of water filter system. Tap or faucet water filters and under sink water filters are common choices. Both remove a wide range of contaminants and are the next step up from a basic filter pitcher.

Reverse osmosis water filter systems are often considered the most convenient and effective method of water filtration, since it is essentially the same method used to filter bottled water. Reverse osmosis filters can filter up to 99% of all contaminants that are in the water including  arsenic and fluoride. However, they do create waste water, which faucet and under sink filters don’t, plus they remove good as well as bad minerals. 

If you are considering a whole house water filter, remember, these are designed to treat water for general usage such as cleaning, bathing, showering and laundry. For improved quality drinking water you will also need to employ a water filter designed for this purpose, such as the ones mentioned above.

A shower water filter is always an alternative consideration as well.

Listing all the potential contaminants that could be in your water and which filter you would need to deal with them is too complex to go into here and is not really necessary, as any of the main types of water filter mentioned will go a long way in reducing pollutant levels.

However, if you want information on a particular contaminant and which type of water filter is best suited to reduce or remove it, NSF International, an independent body that helps set public health standards, lists a comprehensive chart on its website, which details this information.

Step 4 – Look For a Water Filter That is NSF Certifed

When you decide upon a water filter look to see if it NSF CertifiedThe NSF is an independent body that examines and tests any given water filer, inspects the manufacturing facility and then certifies what pollutants that particular filter is able to reduce or remove from the water under certain conditions.

Confused About Which Water Filter to Buy?

If you’re looking for a entry level, inexpensive water filter, a carbon filter water filter pitcher/jug is a great way to start. All pitcher style filters will effectively reduce or remove chlorine, which is often a main pollutant of concern with consumers.

If you’re looking for a more permanent filter, or are looking for more filtration than a a pitcher filter can supply, you have the option of a water filter for the sink,water filter faucet, a countertop water filter or a reverse osmosis water filter system.

If you want your bath, cleaning and laundry water to be filtered as well, you will also require a whole house water filter system, although if you are happy to just filter your shower water, a water filter for the shower may suffice.

For one of the most powerful filters around, I always recommend the Big Berkey or the British Berkefeld as a great long term investment. They are both highly rated gravity fed filters. Gravity fed filters filter at a slower rate, which generally means much better filtration.

Or for a good overview of some of the best water filters available, across a range of budgets, see my Top 10 Water Filters Guide.

Step 5 – Buy Your Filter & Enjoy Healthy Drinking Water!