questionsany opinions on water coolers?

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@lavikinga: It's easy enough to do and should be done monthly. The cleaning process that doesn't take long. Fill up the resevoir with water and some bleach (1 tbsp / gallon I think), drain, and refill with clean water 4 times.

You should do this with the water bottles too.

It's a good thing to do to get away from buying all those individual water bottles. The US goes through something like over 35 billion bottles a year. With our recycling rate of about 28%, that's about 25 billion bottles going into the landfill. Also, plastic is made from petroleum which is part of the US' 20 million barrels (bbl) of oil PER DAY consumption and foreign oil dependency. (We only produce about 5 million bbl per day which means we have to import the rest.)

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If you have ever had the opportunity to take apart one used by medical personnel in an office lounge area and serviced by a local water delivery company, you would be horrified to see the growth of nastiness. Never again will I ever drink from one.
You'll have to be vigilant in your cleaning routine.

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@tucnguyen: I am lucky in that my tap water is quite drinkable and I don't have to rely on bottled water. I see people with their reusable water bottles and wonder how often those are thoroughly cleaned. I don't know why I should be so grossed out about slimy germs as I've been known to take a swig out of my garden hose when I've become thirsty while working in my yard.

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@sstaylor: I have multiple bottles in storage and refill whenever I got to the store. They're not very expensive either.

They also come in 2 or 3 gallon sizes, too.

BTW - a gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds so a 5 gallon bottle is 40lbs.

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@apfrehm: We have had 2 5 gallon types now... Our first floor stand model paid $150 on sale at Kmart. Stopped cooling. Our 2nd we sat on a 2 drawer cabinet file cabinet is a 1/2 type. We paid an amazing $38 at Menards on sale.

We love the 5 gallon because the kids drink more water then juice. The bottles are less hassle to replace then filling britta pichers. The refrigerator is not open the whole time the water glass is filled.
When the kids open the refrigerator the choice of juice is there, out of sight our of mind thing.
The water does not pick up other smells from the refrigerator.

This is the one we have now http://www.greenoptions.com/products/greenway-pwd2635w-water-cooler it is very sturdy on the file cabinet.

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We have one at work, not sure the brand, but they aren't the sturdiest things in the world. If you can't keep your kid away from it, there's always that chance of knocking it over.

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We had one in our house for a long while. It's very convenient to have both hot and cold water on tap. It's not so convenient to refill the 5 gallon bottles at the store and haul them around. I guess one could get water service, but I rather suspect it's expensive. We had three kids in the house at the time, and never had a problem with them knocking it over or anything, and the hot water tap was kid-resistant.
Ours was a model that had the bottle on the top, and my wife had trouble putting a new bottle on. Lately I've seen models where the bottle sits upright in the base, so it's much easier to handle and much less likely to tip. I've been tempted to pick one up.

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@tucnguyen: Thanks for posting that. Water dispensers have been known to harbor Legionaries disease, which can be deadly.

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@sstaylor: What brand was it? What kind of security did the hot water tap have?

Since posting, I saw one in Costco that, like you mentioned, has the water stored upright underneath. That was really appealing, and at $130 it isn't too costly, but my main concerns are the ease of getting it refilled (not too concerned, but it is an odd size bottle) and the safety of the hot water part. Honestly, with a Keurig coffee maker, I'd be happy just being able to completely (albeit reversibly) disable the hot water button.

Hauling is not a concern for me. I've got a good size SUV, and I don't mind filling up half a dozen of them a week, so long as that works out to be comparable or cheaper than the PUR filters we have been using.

The two biggest payoffs I'm looking for are 1) freeing up refrigerator space, and 2) having a much more plentiful supply of cold, filtered water than we currently have.

Anyone

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@caffeine_dude: How cold does it get? That's the other issue, we all want the water to be fridge-cold, not "cooled," so after reading a lot of reviews I'm worried that a cooler just isn't going to give that same level of coldness.

If we had an ice machine, then it might not be such an issue, but freezer space (even with a chest freezer in the garage) is at a premium, and ice cube trays are a pain. (And again, we rent, and the fridge isn't ours...)

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@apfrehm: I know it does not get as cold as my refrigerator. I have no way of measuring the temp, it did frost the glass of water that had 2 1/4 cups of water in it. The 2nd cup I poured did not frost over, it is recovering.

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@apfrehm: I don't recall the brand; it's been some years ago. The security on the hot water consisted of a little tab thingy that had to be moved before the hot water would be dispensed. Not tough for most adults, but a tiny kid wouldn't have the knowlege or the dexterity to easily overcome it.

The one that has me tempted right now is the one at Costco, but I haven't looked too closely at it so I'm afraid I couldn't comment on it, other than to say it tempted me.

We had I think three 5-gallon bottles at the time, and we'd just take the empties to the supermarket with us to refill--they had a filtered water station there for something like fifteen cents a gallon. It seemed much cheaper and easier than the Britta-type filters, and much, much cheaper than bottled water. I agree a smaller bottle would have been easier for my wife to handle, but that's what we had.

The water was pleasantly cold, but not icy. Our model had a variable temp, which was nice. Hot water was steaming hot.

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@sstaylor: If you get the one from Costco, please post about your experiences. Honestly, that one makes me nervous, as it looks just like the one posted on their site, which has a 3-star rating, only because around 50% gave it a 1 star based upon problems. I'm not sure I want to gamble on that...

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For now I think we may just stick with the system we have. After researching a bit more, it looks like top-loaders on average have better reviews than bottom-loaders, in terms of mechanical failure issues. Maybe at some point I will order the $139 Primo top-loader from Costco's website. Anyone with a favorite top-loader, please post what / why / how much. Pretty sure I want to just make do for now, but not 100%.

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I usually just get someone who does water delivery in Calgary to bring me the water each time. They recycle the bottles, too, which is a huge plus in my eyes. http://www.albertawaterservice.com/en/seasonal.html