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Water Coolers

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Installed in businesses and homes across the country, water coolers provide a convenient way to quench your thirst, make your hot tea, and enjoy small talk with your colleagues. Water coolers can offer hot, cold and room temperature water in a variety of new ways, including:

·         Bottom-Loading Bottled Water units allow you to install the bottled water, spout up, at the bottom of unit. This eliminates the heavy lifting and occasional spills of conventional top-loading units. 

·         Point of Use units avoid bottled water by using a dedicated water line and filtering systems.

·         On Demand units do not store conditioned water in internal tanks but provide hot and cool water upon request – saving energy.

With so many choices, one thing is clear….you can look for the ENERGY STAR label on your water heater to save energy. Water coolers that earn the ENERGY STAR will be, on average, about 30 percent more energy efficient than standard models.

Current Specification Effective Date: February 1, 2014

Water coolers originally qualified for the ENERGY STAR label in September, 2000.

Water Cooler Key Product Criteria: ENERGY STAR

Water coolers must meet the following energy consumption requirements:

Energy-Efficiency Criteria for ENERGY STAR Certified Water Coolers Using the “On Mode with No Water Draw” Test*

Water Cooler Category

Qualification Level

Cold Only or  Cook and Cold Units

≤ 0.16 kWh/day

Hot and Cold Units – Storage Type**

≤ 0.87 kWh/day

Hot and Cold Units – On Demand

≤ 0.18 kWh/day


*ENERGY STAR Test Method for Water Coolers (Rev. May-2013)

** Point-of-Use, dry storage compartment and bottled water coolers are included in this category

Learn How a Product Earns the Label


Most water coolers can dispense cold water, hot water or both. Below we review the different types of water coolers available on the market.[1]


Bottled and Point of Use Water Coolers

Bottled water coolers are compatible with standard 3 or 5 gallon water bottles that can be refilled at the supermarket or delivered from a water bottled water distributor. Some bottle water coolers are “bottom loading” -- the water bottle is loaded, spout up, in the bottom of the unit – avoiding the heavy lifting and occasional spills of top-loading units.

Point of use water coolers are a little more expensive and more complicated than bottled water coolers, but they eliminate monthly water delivery bills and lifting large bottles. These units are connected directly into your cold water line and refill automatically. They will most likely require a plumber for installation.   


Storage Tank and On Demand Water Coolers

Most water coolers rely on internal storage tanks (some made of stainless steel for better taste[2]) of varying size to provide hot and cold water.  However, a few water coolers are now providing “on demand” hot[3] and cold[4] water.  Water coolers with on-demand capabilities use less energy. (Note: There may be a wait of a few minutes for hot water with on-demand units.)


Countertop Water Coolers 

If you don't have the space for a full size bottled water cooler, countertop units are also available. Countertop water coolers can usually accommodate 2 to 5 gallon bottles.  A countertop model may have a smaller compressor, so water may not be as cold as the freestanding unit.[5]


Filtered Point of Use Water Coolers

If the taste of your tap water is unappealing, point of use water coolers are available that come with built-in filtration systems to remove silt, odors, chlorine and other chemicals. There are 2 main types of filtering systems: reverse osmosis and activated carbon. In a reverse osmosis system, water is passed through a sediment filter, making them effective at desalinating water and removing minerals but not as effective at removing chemicals from your tap water. Filtered water coolers with activated carbon can remove smaller substances and chemicals like chlorine, pesticides and herbicides. These filters will have to be maintained and changed out occasionally.




[1] This guide relied heavily on this guide found at

[3] Greenway offers an on-demand hot unit that provides hot water in minutes.



Quench 548 features a unique spiral ice coil that instantly chills filtered water as it passes, and consequently requires no cold water tank or ultraviolet sanitization.


Did You Know?

If all water coolers sold in the United States met ENERGY STAR specifications, the energy cost savings would grow to nearly $117 million each year and nearly 2 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions would be prevented, equivalent to the emissions from more than 195,000 vehicles.