water coolers

A water cooler—or water dispenser, if you prefer—is an easy way to get cold and hot water in the office, at home or even in your car. It’s also the spot where people go to talk about work or gossip, as is seen in the expression “talking shop at the water cooler.”

There are several types of water dispensers that offer different functions. The one you choose will depend on your needs and budget. The most basic type is a free-standing bottled water cooler, typically holding 3- to 5-gallon water jugs and dispenses cold and hot water at the push of a button. You can also find countertop models that sit on the counter, a more compact option suitable for smaller spaces. There are also a number of wall-mounted bottleless water coolers that connect directly to your building’s main water supply, which can save you money in the long run because you won’t be buying disposable bottles of water.

Depending on the style of water cooler you select, you can also expect it to come with options such as a cooling indicator light that tells you when your water is chilling, an empty bottle indication and a filter change alert. Some water coolers are also ENERGY STAR certified, meaning they meet certain efficiency standards that help reduce energy costs and keep your water clean.

Some water coolers also feature a child safety lock, making them safe for kids to use. A night light is another useful feature for many users. And, as with any appliance, cleaning your water cooler regularly is necessary to keep it clean and sanitary. The timeline for this varies among manufacturers, with Campbell saying you should err on the side of caution and clean it every six weeks, while Bucur says three months is more realistic.

If you’re concerned about environmental impact, Quench offers high-standard jugless water dispensers that reduce plastic water bottle waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Its eco-friendly models use a filtration process called Reverse Osmosis to remove contaminants from your drinking water and prevent the buildup of bacteria on the machine’s stainless steel tank.

Before you decide to purchase a water dispenser, make sure to determine your hydration needs by considering how much you drink and how often, Kourey advises. Then, ask yourself if you want hot or cold water and how much space you can dedicate to your new water dispenser.

The answer to this question will ultimately determine whether a water dispenser is worth it for you. Generally, she adds, they’re worth it for those who drink a lot of bottled water or are looking to cut down on waste and cost. They’re not, however, a good fit for those who only need a few glasses of water a day or those who don’t like the thought of having to keep refilling their own water bottles. If you’re not sure, ask yourself if you’re willing to take the time to maintain your own bottled water supply or if you would rather buy a smaller model that dispenses filtered tap water instead.