How to Save Money on Refrigerator Water Filters

Aaron AvatarSo, the green light on the Whirlpool refrigerator just turned orangeish the other day (on it's way to full-blown red) and you know what that means? Time for a new water filter.

Now, you might still own one of those old school refrigerators OR a newer one that doesn't dispense water. But, if you do have one with a filter – you'll know that these things aren't cheap! We have to replace ours about 2 to 3 times a year at a cost of about $50/each. It's pretty smart deal for the refrigeration companies because they basically have you hooked into a “subscription” with their products.

I got to thinking: “there's got to be some ways to save money on these bad boys, right?” So, I went researching and the following are some things you can do to save on your next filter purchases. I hope they help.

  • Sign-up for a filter subscription service. I know that Whirlpool does this (and other manufacturers probably do too) – but if you know that your filter will “expire” in about 6 months or so, might as well set-up a plan where you get it mailed to you directly. Whirlpool offers $10 off + free shipping on your first subscription order (and then $5 off thereafter). Use coupon code REPEAT10 to take advantage of this offer at At GE, the offer is free shipping for signing up for their “SmartOrder” delivery option.
  • Use coupon codes. If you've decided to buy a refrigerator water filter online (which I think you'll find is a cheaper way to go most of the time), search some of the bigger coupon code sites to find one you can use with your filter purchase. I like and personally. probably has the widest selection of coupons out there.
  • Buy 'em in bulk. Whirlpool sells a 2-pack of filters for $10 less than what you'd pay if you bought two separately. Sometimes bulk is the way to go.water filters
  • Local store discounts. If you need a water filter in a pinch and can't wait for one to arrive via snail mail – you may want to visit the local home improvement store. A lot of times I will take this route and visit a nearby Home Depot or other hardware store. Filters don't typically go on sale though – but if your store has any “percentage” off your purchase coupons – take advantage of these. Also, some appliance manufacturers provide rebates for certain purchases (like GE).

Is there a way that you manage to save money on your refrigerator filters? I'd love to know!

Updated 1/11/14: I've actually been saving quite a bit on these since I last published this piece by using Amazon's “Subscribe and Save” service. I can get them about $20 less than I would if I got them individually at Home Depot or another hardware store.

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  1. Time for a new water filter.

  2. I would like to add the water filters can grow bacteria on them if used longer than 6 months. This is probably the reason for the warning. Certain filters containing silver may last longer than 6 months. Just don’t use the filter when it’s old. It’s better to drink from the tap then using expired filters that may have some kind of fungus on it.

    • Thanks Matt – good point.

    • How would microbials start growing after 6 months? There is no magic timeline for bacteria and fungus. In a stagnant environment, they would begin to grow mich faster. I would love to see a study on this theory as it doesn’t seem very logical to me. Now if the filter was left unused for an extended period of time, then I could see the validity in your theory. I just can’t see why after six months, microbials would start to grow?

  3. Hi Aaron – wow, you’re filter light goes off 2-3x/year? That’s a lot! My GE model came new with my house in 2009. What I discovered is that I’m sure my filter light goes on based on a timer or calendar, not based on actual usage and therefore, I don’t pay the light as much respect as I would’ve otherwise. I discovered this because I remember the date we closed (we were building and so it was heavily anticipated) and the first time I noticed the warning light go off, it was suspiciously exactly 11 months to the day from when we moved in (the fridge was installed the day before we moved in, yes it was a rush!). Then the light turned red exactly at 12 months. So I ordered my $40 filter, thinking it was a ridiculously high price to pay for a filter (my car’s oil filter is $4) and read the owner’s manual more closely. The owner’s manual says to replace it when the light goes off or when the water tastes/smells bad or water flow is restricted. So anyway, what I did was just turn off the light and then I saved the new filter when it came. Sure enough, exactly 11 months later the warning light came on and 12 months later the red light came on. This time (at 2 years) I replaced the filter. Now, this summer, at exactly 3 years the light came on again and I just reset the button. Next summer, when it goes off at 4 years, I will replace the filter. So, moral of the story, these filters are expensive revenue generators for the manufacturers, and you don’t have to replace them as often as they’d like you to. The owner’s manual tells you how to detect if there’s a problem with them, and I bet there are millions of perfectly good water filters thrown away every year. Just for clarity, my 2nd year with the original filter was every bit as good as the 1st year – water just as clean and strong as ever. I probably could’ve gone several more years with that filter.

    Now, assuming you will ever replace your filter, let me recommend I got mine there and you can get 2 or 3-packs for cheaper than just 1 at a time. Also, for my GE model, there was an off-brand that said it was a match for my fridge. People leaving comments had mixed results with compatibility, but I’d guess it’d work for the most part if you’re careful to get the right one (and you could send it back if it was wrong).

    • A real money-maker aren’t they! Great info Dave – and thanks for sharing it with us.

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