Do you like bottled water? Or do you prefer water pitchers that filter water for you? Click inside to compare and contrast all your options.

More than four out of 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit, spending billions of dollars each year on units ranging from $20 pitchers to distillers costing in the hundreds of dollars, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.


When determining which method of obtaining filtered water gives you the best bang for your buck, consider these choices and what they will cost and offer you in return:


Filter pitchers


Most water pitchers are inexpensive, costing about $20, and use granular-activated carbon and resins to trap contaminants. They improve the taste of water, and many will reduce lead and other contaminants but not all disease-causing organisms, according to www.epa.gov. Dave Wentz, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Healthy Home” and CEO of Utah-based USANA Health Science Inc., said while water pitchers are a good first step toward healthier water at home, the carbon does not remove fluoride, many heavy metals, viruses and other contaminants. The EPA also notes that carbon filters have a limited shelf life and should be replaced regularly, adding to the cost.


Bottled water


Not only is bottled water environmentally unfriendly, but, according to Wentz, recent studies have shown that an increasing share of bottled water is filtered tap water resold as “purified” water. Wentz said bottled water, at more than $1 for a small bottle, is at least 300 times more expensive than tap water and not necessarily safer.


Filters that attach to a faucet


These filters, which cost from $25 to around $100 online, generally use the same technologies as the filter pitchers, according to the EPA. The EPA said these filters are effective at improving the taste of tap water, and some will reduce lead, protozoan cysts and many other contaminants. Like with filter pitchers, shelf lives vary.


Distillers


Distillers heat water to the boiling point, killing disease-causing microbes and leaving most chemical contaminants behind, according to the EPA. Wentz said while distillers are very effective, they can be expensive to install (some units were listed online at $500 to $1,000), require more energy to run and take up more space.


Reverse-osmosis  units


These units force water through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure, leaving contaminants behind. They use about three times as much water as they treat but are effective in eliminating all disease-causing organisms and most chemical contaminants, the EPA says. “The filtration system’s membrane typically lasts three to five years and costs less than $200 on the low end,” Wentz said.