Not that long ago, most people didn’t think twice before grabbing a glass, and filling it up with tap water from their kitchen sink. But in the past few years, concerns over water quality have prompted people to look for safer alternatives. While some regions are plagued with tap water having a “bad taste” (usually due to water treatment agents like chlorine), other areas have more serious issues to deal with, like bacteria proliferation and industrial pollutants. While some people don’t mind the cost of purchasing bottled water, others have tried to be more economical, installing water filters on their tap faucets, or in many cases, outfitting large, expensive water filtration systems for their entire house. By understanding your family’s water needs, and doing a quick bit of research, you’ll be able to get a better idea of the quality of water in your area, and the steps you can take to ensure your family’s safety.

1. Do your research – Sites like http://water.usgs.gov and http://water.epa.gov/drink/ compile up-to-date statistics on a wide variety of water measurements in your area.

2. Look into cost – If you find yourself living in an area where the tap water consistently receives low marks, then it just makes good sense for you to explore your water filtration options. While there are many options to choose from, it really boils down to your peace of mind.

Water Filtration Pitchers – The classic Brita pitcher is what usually comes to mind for most, but there are actually quite a few of these types of water filtration systems on the market now. And while they are definitely the most convenient kind of water filtration system, many don’t offer the same guarantees as some of the more advanced systems you have the option of choosing from. Not to say that these simple fill-and-pour systems should be overlooked, though. These pitchers are great for areas that have those “bad taste” kind of water issues. In these areas, many people are content with just a pitcher. However, you will have to buy replacement filters on a regular basis, and that often overlooked expense can leave many regretting that they didn’t just spend the money on a bigger system.

Faucet Filters – These come in two varieties. One variety attaches to your actual faucet, and the other is installed under the sink, purifying the water before it reaches the faucet. Each have their pros and cons, but most of them are better equipped to remove a wider variety of contaminants than the classic water filtration pitcher. If you live in an area where hard water is a problem, many of these undersink varieties offer water softening options as well. These systems are ideal for people who are looking to only purify their sink water. Installing one of these in your kitchen will give your family superb drinking water, while providing you crisp, clean water for cooking purposes.

Whole House Water Filters – These are attached at the “point of entry” water source of your house, and will filter all of your home’s water, from the shower to the ice maker. Many people find that this option is the best, as all of their water quality concerns have the capability of being met by only one filter. These systems require the least amount of maintenance, but have the heaviest price tag out of all of the systems outlined thus far. If you have municipal (city) water, then a decent whole house water filtration system will cost you an average of 700 dollars or more, and well water systems can set you back into the thousands. However, this is the best way to ensure that all of the water flowing into your home is safe, soft, and tasty.

For more information on the kinds of water systems available to you, please visit http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/water-filters/buying-guide.htm

It’s time to buy a home! That is right you heard it here, no more doom and gloom for the real estate market. The time has come to go out and buy some real estate. The only thing holding buyers back has been consumer emotion but a look at the facts should help buyer feel more confident in opening up their wallets for a great opportunity in today’s housing market.

JP Morgan’s Market Insights report has outlined why people looking to buy a home have never been in a better position. Here are just three important points from the JP Morgan report.

The Price is Right

One measure the report looked at was the ratio of personal income to home prices.

“Since 1966, the median price of an existing single family home in the U.S. has varied between 150% and 251% of personal income per household. However, roughly three-quarters of the time it has been in a relatively narrow band between 185% and 230%. In September 2011, the ratio was just 153%, implying that to get back to an average price to income ratio, home prices would have to rise by about 27%.”

Mortgage Rates are Right

Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows as compared to personal income.  The report notes, “During the week of October 7, Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates had fallen to an average annual level of 3.94%. Assuming the use of a fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, this would make the median mortgage payment on a single family existing home just 6.9% of per household personal income, compared with an average of 14.4% since 1966.”

What this means is that it is a buyers perfect storm. Buyers who buy now will likely reap a long term financial gain by buying a home at a lower than average cost and financing it for a lower than average cost. It is a win-win situation.

Home Ownership Beats Renting

The report goes on to look at the cost of renting versus owning. JP Morgan predicts that by the “third quarter of this year, we estimate that the implied median mortgage payment had fallen to just 78% of the median asking rent. In other words, at current mortgage rates, home prices would have to rise by 35% just to get back to their average relationship to rents.”


Home buying is now more affordable than it has been in decades. Home prices are at all time lows, mortgage rates are at rock bottom and income levels remain steady. Despite what you may hear on the nightly news home ownership has never been more affordable.

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