Water Bottle Experiment - One Month in an RV with the Aquasana Countertop Filter System

Amy Lee, Environmental Consultant
Featured Water Professional

I took one month this summer to keep track of how many plastic bottles we use in our RV vs. using our newly purchased Aquasana countertop filter system to filter water as needed while on the road. We typically use about 3-5 gallons of purchased water per week on the road for drinking, brushing teeth, and some cooking. In addition we frequently purchase smaller bottles of water on the road either because they fit better in the RV refrigerator or they are convenient for what we are doing on a particular day. Normally we are connecting to campground water sources or we have access to fresh potable water to fill the on-board RV freshwater tank; however, at each stop we aren’t always confident that the water is safe, drinkable, and we don’t always particularly like the taste of water that has sat in the RV tank for days on the road.

The participants: 2 human adults and one 9 lb. canine. We all typically drink water as our main hydration.

The data starts as of 7/22/23 and finishes 8/22/23 with some interesting lessons-learned…

First off, we learned we didn't plan very well on our first travel day and ended up purchasing bottles at stops. We did bring two single gallon jugs of water we had previously purchased from home and they remain with us for re-filing as needed one month later. Then we realized, we might want to keep track of soda cans too because we purchased a few of those during our initial stops too. The good news was that when we did need to purchase a bottle of water, our plan was to re-use it by filtering our own water. Historically on RV trips with two adults and one small dog, we would need to purchase about 3-5 single gallons of water per week, and we sometimes re-filled them from potable water sources in the campgrounds without any assurances that the source was tested and we wouldn't get sick. We also would purchase 4-6 tall Smartwater bottles per week and 4-6 sixteen ounce bottles during outings. These averages are used as the typical controls in the data. 

For this trip we have a sediment filtration unit typical for most RV users coming into the RV before any tank fill-ups or use through the on-board water system. For cooking we typically are using water straight from the faucet although sometimes we are using water through the Aquasana for this too. We are using filtered water rather than purchased for drinking, coffee, tea, brushing teeth etc. At this point any plastic purchased that was not re-used was on days that were not planned well. Over time we have started to remember to bring water with us for outings and adventures. We have been doing a lot of hiking on this trip, so we always remember to bring filtered water with us on those days.  

We did better as we went along through the month - particularly with an eye on tracking it! Any bottles we did need to dispose of were placed in recycle bins rather than trash and we only needed to recycle a few that were either crushed, not holding a seal well in the car, or had become too hot and warped in the car (and not considered healthy to drink from anymore).

Our results of this one month experiment are below:

Total Cost Saving

Cost of water and containers if purchased.

Item Quantity Cost
1 Gallon Jugs 16.5 22.91
20 oz. Bottles 55.0 82.50
16 oz. Bottles 70.0 70.00
1 Liter Bottles 27.0 54.00
TOTAL 229.41

With the Aquasana countertop unit on sale right now for $199.99 - we have already paid for our unit in 1 month as well as a spare filter for the next 6 months.

Total Plastic Savings

Item Quantity Wt. Lbs. Cap Wt. Lbs. Total Lbs.
1 Gallon Jugs 16.5 .150 .006 2.418
20 oz. Bottles 55.0 .060 .006 3.360
16 oz. Bottles 70.0 .064 .006 4.900
1 Liter Bottles 27.0 .075 .006 2.187
TOTAL 13.13

 In case you are interested in our data for the month it's here:

Water Bottle Experiment Data Spreadsheet
Click Image to enlarge

Another lesson learned - we averaged close to 0.5 aluminum cans used per day - a much higher cradle-to-grave environmental footprint than plastic bottles have. Keeping track of it helped us recognize this trend and start to curb it...as well as drink more on-board water that is now easily filtered and gives us confidence that it is safe to drink via the Aquasana countertop unit.

I have tested the water with at-home test strips both straight from the tap connection to the campground water source and through the Aquasana at each campground hookup for quality. So far we haven't really noticed any concerns. 

In Vermont the Alkalinity at the campground was still in the normal range but trending a bit high - as expected considering the amount of rain and flooding Vermont had in July and the alkaline nature of the hearty bedrock in the state. Since the Vermont campground was a well-water source with an unknown proximity to the campground's also unknown sewage treatment methods, we also ran an at-home Bacteria test with 24 and 48 hour results showing no bacteria concerns. I do think it's smart to bring some at-home test strips on any RV excursion so that a potential water issue can be identified early rather than later. The test strips I have been using are these:

Varify - 17 in 1 Premium Drinking Water Test Kit

Water Testing with the Varify Text Kit

Conveniently, this kit covers a lot of initial water test concerns and includes 2 bacteria test kits for when we think we might want to use them. We also have found that many Ace hardware stores on the road carry at-home water test kits or they can order them for you. You will want a drinking water test kit - not a pool filtration water test kit which Ace Hardware also often stocks.

The Aquasana countertop unit we brought with us fits perfectly right under the sink in our small galley kitchen of our 24’ long RV. It’s a sprinter-style RV, so we know how much a commodity space is on these trips. It also weighs less than the 3-5 gallons of purchased bottled water we normally would bring with us, so another win.

To Purchase Aquasana Products view our Aquasana Partner Page

We purchased this Aquasana Clean Water Machine Countertop Unit along with spare filters.

Some Trip Highlights

Lithuanian Days Celebration in Pennsylvania
Cheers! - Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, PA
Geology Humor - “Table Rock” in Vermont
"Copper" - Our Canine Tour Guide

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