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My most important work-from-home accessory is a water cooler

I got a small piece of the office right at home — and stayed more hydrated throughout the day.
Illustration of two woman working t a table with their water cooler in the background and the Cascade Profile Hot & Cold Water Cooler. How a water cooler improved my work-from-home setup. Learn more about The Cascade Profile Hot & Cold Water Cooler and sh
How a Shopping writer brings a piece of the office home and stays hydrated with a water cooler. The Good Brigade / Getty Images ; Ready Refresh

Chatting around the water cooler is one of the many small pleasures we lost in 2020, and while I miss talking about the weather or news with my co-workers, I was able to recreate part of the experience at home with my very own water cooler. I’m often drawn to paying more for convenience, so I decided to invest in a water cooler for my New York City apartment. While my apartment has tap water, its temperature doesn’t fluctuate much and it doesn’t get much colder than room temperature. I’d have to put a ton of ice in my glass and wait a couple minutes for my water to get cool enough to drink.

I’ve used a water pitcher in the past, but it holds a limited amount of water, takes up a large amount of fridge space and can be a hassle to refill (especially when you have multiple roommates). At one point, I was buying and refrigerating plastic water bottles, which is both expensive and environmentally wasteful. Now, my roommates and I have a water cooler that sits in the corner of our living room. We get a monthly water delivery and cycle through about four 5-gallon jugs a month via ReadyRefresh, a water delivery company. Each monthly delivery costs around $30, split three ways.

The Cascade Profile Hot & Cold Water Cooler

We didn’t want to shell out for a pricey water cooler loaded with features, and settled on this dispenser. It’s durable, easily supports 5-gallon water jugs, and dispenses both ice-cold and hot water. When filling up my glass or water bottle, I can simply press it back on the lever and water comes right out. The hot water feature also makes it easy to have a cup of tea without boiling water on the stove.

Having access to on-tap cold water all day has actually helped me stay hydrated, as there’s less of a hurdle to get water — I find myself drinking more water than ever before. What’s more, I’m definitely saving money (since I’m not buying extra water bottles) and being more environmentally friendly. Once we finish each water jug, we set it aside and ReadyRefresh collects it and recycles it for future use.

Other water coolers to use

You can find water coolers with almost any feature, from a built-in fridge to a sparking water dispenser. Some coolers are more sleekly designed — with stainless steel or glass — which may fit better with your existing home decor. Keep in mind that the more features or design elements your cooler has, the more expensive it may be.

The Allure Series Hot, Cold and Sparkling Dispenser

If you’re like me and miss the sparkling water cans at the office, you’ll love this stainless steel cooler that can dispense sparkling water in addition to cold and hot liquid. You can select how carbonated you want your water to be, with high, medium and low settings. This cooler also has an LED screen that reminds you when it's time to clean the filter or replace the carbonation tank, which comes with the model. It can support both 3- and 5-gallon water tanks.

Brio Moderna Self-Cleaning Water Dispenser

This high-end water cooler has automatic sensors for a touchless water dispense, and comes with temperature adjustment and a digital LED clock. One of my favorite features of this model is the bottom-load design, so you don’t have to lift a 40-pound water jug up on top of the cooler. This cooler comes with safety features to prevent hot water from coming out, plus a child lock.

Brita Standard UltraMax Water Filter Dispenser

If you don’t have the room for a water cooler or don’t want to splurge on one, I’ve used and loved this Brita water dispenser. It’s an easy and more affordable way to get cold water, though it requires regular refills and semi-regular cleaning and filter replacements. This model can hold up to 18 cups and filters out particulates like chlorine and mercury from tap water. It’s also more environmentally friendly than purchasing plastic water bottles.

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