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When I was growing up, we drank water from the tap. The only bottled water I recall seeing people drink was Perrier at a restaurant. Today, bottled water in the household is as common as having milk. Some people drink bottled water to avoid whatever harmful components they fear are in tap water, and others drink bottled water for its convenience.

I drink tap water and use a plastic cup when I take water with me in the car. However, like many readers, my husband believes in drinking only purified water. He uses a water-filtering pitcher and reusable Nalgene water bottles that he takes along on outings. He gets his purified water, saves money and avoids contributing additional trash to the environment.

Having a bottled-water habit can add up to be a significant expense over the course of the year. The typical cost of the store-brand gallon of filtered water is about a dollar. The typical sale price of a six-pack of half-liter bottles is about $1, which is about one-third more expensive at $1.34 per gallon.

By comparison, if you were to buy a pitcher water-filter system — such as PUR or Brita — your average cost per gallon of filtered water would be about 25 cents. The Brita company bases this cost estimate on the purchase of a $25 pitcher (one filter included), plus 5 replacement filters at $9 each, for a total yearly cost of $70. Each filter produces 40 gallons of water and the average Brita owner uses six filters in a year, to produce 240 gallons, which is the equivalent of using about two-thirds of a gallon per day.

If your family uses two-thirds of a gallon of filtered water per day, your annual savings would be about $175, compared to using gallon jugs. on sale — or individual water bottles at concession stands — $1 or more each — would save far more money by using a pitcher water-filter system.

Shoppers who use filtered-water systems also help reduce the environmental impact of producing and disposing of plastic bottles. The Web site, www.FilterForGood.com, mentions a disturbing fact: Consumers send 38 billion plastic water bottles to landfills every year. Not only does that add trash to our environment, but it also takes 1.5 million barrels of oil to create that many bottles.

Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC’s Good Morning America. She can be reached at shoppingmom@unitedmedia. com.