The water dispenser has, over the years, served all kinds if purposes – and not just to deliver water, chilled and filtered, either. In fact, the water cooler was invented for an entirely different reason.
Typhoid is a strain of bacterium similar to salmonella and was once prevalent throughout the developing world. Incredibly contagious, it took only a small intake of infected food or drink and the person would undoubtedly be seriously ill. In fact, for many people, contracting typhoid was fatal. Water was a common source of the typhoid bacteria, along with poor hygiene standards and practices thus, Halsey Willard Taylor and Luther Haws came up with the idea of a water dispenser. Their thought was that by keeping water in a safe, sealed container, it would not become infected with the nasty germs that caused typhoid. Back in 1906, this was an invention that probably saved lives. But it didn’t stop the relentless march of typhoid. In 2000, despite there being a vaccine, there were 21.7 million people suffering from typhoid and 217,00 deaths. Chlorinating water is the only effective way of ‘cleaning’ water which is why many countries chlorinate drinking water. You could argue that the Victorians, known for inventing all kinds of pieces of kit and apparatus had already invented the water cooler. In the hotter months of summer, water was chilled by being in a receptacle with a large block of ice inside. The household took the water from it, as and when they needed it.
The water cooler or dispenser remained on the fringes of society for decades. It wasn’t until a small change with a monumental impact came along that the water dispenser when from zero to hero. Plastic had been invented for some time, but the craze for plastic bottled water in the 1980s revolutionised the way we bought water; no longer were we confined to the running water tap with its unfortunate chemical taste and smell. The advent of electricity is also impacted on the water dispenser meaning that a small refrigeration unit could be installed to keep water chilled. By far, the biggest impact was a change in our attitude. We came to expected great tasting water at work and home, and we wanted it to be dispensed when we wanted it.
Many UK businesses and companies saw the water cooler as an American invention and craze that had no place in the busy business. After all, we are a nation of tea drinkers, and so the provision of a kettle was more important that a new-fangled machine that stood in the corner of the office. But as our attitudes to health and well-being changed and thus, we now expect to see a water dispenser and cooler in most business premises. And it created the water cooler moment and the time and space where ideas are shared, people met, gossip exchanged. It might not look to be advantageous to your business, but many research projects have found that the social time at the water cooler, even if it just five minutes, can have an enormous positive impact on the person, and the business.
Time marching on and attitudes change. We live in an age where we know consider everything that we do and its potential impact on the environment. The water cooler could have fallen out of fashion, but it didn’t. We could have questioned using electricity to keep water cool, but instead, the water cooler industry stepped up, creating energy efficient machines that used a minimal draw of energy to keep water cool and chilled. And the modern cooler has gone one step further.
We are also more aware of what we consumer and how it impacts the body. Although we are all genuine pleased that our water is free-flowing and contains no harmful pathogens, many of us worry about consuming chemicals used in water to cleanse it. With this in mind, water dispensers know filter water although the water source is natural and so misses out the chlorine and the fluoride, etc. But is tastes better because it tastes like it should – tasteless?
You can opt for bottled water dispensers or the plumbed in version. You have a range of styles from which to choose too, from crisp white to moody greys and modern black. You can have it looking ‘space age’ and modern, or blend it into the background. Either way, the water dispenser is an indispensable item in the modern business.