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Keep it cool with a water cooler & dispenser

Water coolers and dispensers are a great way to get clean, fresh-tasting water at home or the office.

What are water coolers and dispensers and how do they work?

The most commonly found type of water cooler & dispenser are bottle fed units whereby a large bottle of filtered water is placed upside down on top. It pierces a seal so water can flow freely through. Place a cup or bottle underneath, push a button, and water dispenses.

Water is cooled through refrigerant that changes from liquid to gas form via a compressor as it travels through pipes, absorbing heat and removing it from the water, thus leaving you with cool, refreshing aqua. Some water coolers also dispense warm/hot water via a heating element, and others even have built-in ice makers. As water is dispensed, the reservoir refills and the process continues until the bottle is empty.

There are also caps that fit overtop a plastic water bottle and use power to pull water through a tap-like device to fill a cup or pot; and water filtration dispensers connected to a cold water line to both filter and dispense water, removing chlorine, sediment, and pollutants.

Is a water cooler worth it?

A water cooler & dispenser is a great way to get fresh-tasting water in the home (or office) without having to upgrade to a fridge with one built-in (and hooked up to a water line) or using small water pitchers that take up room in the fridge and have expensive filters that need to be replaced often.

The very presence of a water cooler can encourage everyone in the family to drink more water, which is important for health and wellness. It's also a fast and convenient way to get warm/hot water if you have a machine that heats as well, whether it's a quick cup of coffee, tea, or hot cocoa, or for a recipe.

The water, purchased separately, usually in either 3- or 5-gallon bottles, is typically fresh spring water without any pollutants. Because it's naturally alkaline, it tastes fresh and satisfying, too.

How do you clean a water cooler & dispenser?

Cleaning a water cooler and dispenser should be done after every switch of the bottle, or at least every few months, to help kill germs and descale the machine. Unplug the unit and drain any remaining water out of it. Pour a cleaning/disinfecting solution into the machine, which can include a simple mix of bleach and warm water, and scrub it using a brush with soft bristles. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, then drain it into a bucket. Ideally, you'd discard of this by flushing it down the toilet versus the sink.

Then, use clean tap or bottled water and rinse the inside two to three times to ensure you get rid of all the bleach.

The plastic parts, such as the spill guard, can be cleaned with warm soapy warm, or might be top-rack dishwasher safe, but check the owner's manual to be sure.