How to refill your water bottle for free

Reuse and refill to save money with a handy app.

There’s no need to keep buying water when you’re thirsty thanks to a scheme that will let you top up at local shops and businesses.

Though the summer took a while to get going yet this year (and rain is always around the corner) there have been some been fantastically sunny and hot days in the last month. And that means it’s more important than normal to keep hydrated when out and about.

Yes, a chilled coke can be good, and apparently, a hot drink will help lower your body temperature. But personally I’ll always prefer to have a nice cold water.

But buying bottled water isn’t always cheap. Yes, you can pick up an own-brand 500ml bottle from supermarkets for around 50p, but you’ll be paying £1, if not more, at coffee shops and corner shops.

For those still commuting to the office, buying just two bottles a day during a working week could easily cost £10.

And it’s not good for the environment either. The organisation City to Sea estimates that UK households buy 480 plastic bottles a year, and only half get recycled. So it’s better for both your wallet and your conscious is to reuse either a “single-use” bottle, or buy a tougher one designed to be used again and again.

But if you’re not at home or work with access to a tap, where do you top up your bottle? Well, I’ve got some info to help you find out where you can hand over your bottle and get it refilled up for nothing.

Look for the Refill symbol

In recent years I’ve spotted more and more of the Refill logo in the windows and doors of cafes, pubs and even places like gyms. 

This logo means you’ll be able to get a refill of your water bottle for absolutely nothing. You can also plan in advance by downloading the Refill app which has a searchable map.

There are apparently over 274,000 businesses operating as “Refill Stations” in the UK, including brands such as Costa, Starbucks and Greggs.

Look for this Refill logo to get free water

Restaurants and bars – your rights

Of course, not everywhere will have the logo – but that doesn’t mean you can’t get free water. It’s always worth asking places if they’ll top up your bottle, though it’s always better to do this if you’ve been a customer. 

Though spending money doesn’t mean you are entitled to free water. Restaurants and cafes don’t even have to give you free water with your meal unless they are licensed premises.

If they do serve booze then they must have it available, but they can charge for service if they wish. And it doesn’t mean it’ll be very good tap water. I’ve eaten in places where the water is not great at all, and not even that cold. Still, it can help keep costs down.

Find public fountains

The Refill app also has an option to help you locate public fountains.

Filling up at airports

Though you can’t take liquids over 100ml with you then you go airside (though that might be changing), you can bring empty bottles. You should then be able to fill up your water bottles once you’re through security.

Not all airports have fountains, and they’re not always easy to find, but I’ve usually managed to bring a bottle or two through to ensure I can stay hydrated on long-haul flights, and avoid the sky-high (ahem) charges you get on budget airlines.

Money Saving Expert has a useful list of airports which have fountains and where to find them.

For more on this you can also watch this video from a few years ago (when the summer was fantastic)

Reusable water bottle deals

There are a number of decent and affordable options out there, so you’ll find something for your wallet.

I love my insulated bottle which keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and warm for 12 hours, or you might want something better suited to sports. Look for a bottle that is BPA plastic free.

Here are a couple of decent options that also give to good causes.

£20 Chilly’s bottle including £10 donation

This deal from Chilly’s is decent for an insulated bottled. You can buy a Refill branded bottle for £22, but £10 will be donated to Refill. So you’re basically giving a tenner to charity and picking up a decent reusable bottle for £12.

£12.50 Dopper bottle from Waterstones

Not only do these bottles have a lid that doubles as a cup, but a portion of sales also go to campaigns to help reduce water waste and plastic pollution. You can get them Oxfam for £12.50.

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One thought on “How to refill your water bottle for free

  1. We use Refill all the time. Also if we are out and about we have asked in various places that are not signed up with them and they have been willing to refill our bottles.


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