How to harvest rainwater, uses and advantages 

Reduce your household expenses sourcing sustainable water

Rainwater has many advantages, including saving money. Here are some basics to get you started with harvesting rainwater and the different uses for your household.

Everyone wants to save money somewhere and somehow in their lives. Whether you have plenty to spare or you’re counting every penny, saving is always a good choice. There are dozens of different ways it can be done to cut down on household expenses including DIY home-efficient solutions to become more sustainable. 

But had you considered harvesting rainwater? It’s not something that would occur to many people as a way to save money, but it is certainly something to think about.

According to Tanks For Everything, ‘rainwater is not toxic, nor will it do you any harm,’ and even though it’s not the best for drinking, it has a number of other uses such as cleaning your car, topping up fishponds, watering your garden or utilize it for irrigation. 

Buy Less Water 

We’re not talking about bottled water that you keep in the fridge (necessarily, anyway); we’re talking about the water that comes out of your taps. You may not think of it as ‘buying’ water, but in reality that is exactly what you are doing. 

You are paying your water supplier for the water that is used within your home. If you’re on a meter you’re paying for precisely what you use, and if not then you’re paying a flat fee. Either way, it’s a bill that you have to pay to continue having water in your property.

If you invest in a rainwater harvesting system, you will take less water from the water companies, and therefore pay less for the water you use. Assuming, of course, that you are on a meter – so if you harvest rainwater it’s wise to switch to a meter as well. 

What Is The Cost?

According to the UK Rainwater Harvesting Association the average cost of a fully functioning domestic system will be between £2,000 and £3,000 – excluding the installation price of your system. 

Other factors that will also affect the total cost is the amount of piping you will be required to put in and the conversion of your roof to collect water – if changes are necessary. Most domestic systems suit a pump feed system rather than a gravity feed one.

What Saving?

Studies have shown that you can save as much as fifty percent of your water bill when you have a rainwater harvesting system installed. 

Just the figure alone sounds like a good saving, so when you work out exactly what that means for you, and what you could potentially do with the money saved, it becomes even better. It’s no wonder that people are becoming more and more interested in rainwater harvesting. 

What can rainwater be used for?

Harvested rainwater can be used for most things about the home including:

  • Toilets
  • Irrigation
  • Vehicle washing 
  • Washing machines (although this will require sufficient storage and filtration)

Really the only thing that rainwater isn’t good for is drinking, and you will use so little drinking water in comparison to everything else that you will easily see how quickly your bills will go down. 

How to harvest rainwater, uses and advantages

How does rainwater harvesting work?

Rainwater harvesting is a good name for this process because that’s exactly what it is (and why it’s not suitable for drinking water). It is essential the process of collecting rainwater, storing it, filtering it where needed, and then using it within the home or garden instead of the tap water or plumbed water you would usually use.

A roof catchment system would be installed which channels all rainfall towards a storage tank using pipes and gutters. The first few liters (depending on the size of the tank, how the system is set up, and how much rain is falling) will be flushed away, as this takes care of any debris that might have been on the roof and washed into the tank.

The rest is then stored – ideally, the tank that is used will be large enough to hold up to 18 months of water, and this will depend on your own water usage determined by the number of people in your household. 

The tanks aren’t just left for algae and contamination to grow, though. They are treated with a combination of products and chemicals to ensure that, once the water is required, it is not going to do any harm. 

Filters including ultraviolet light are used to decontaminate the water. The good news is that rainwater is naturally pure water; it is only through contact with the ground that it becomes contaminated. Therefore, no much treatment is going to be required. Neither will you need to use any water softening chemicals or machines.

How to harvest rainwater, uses and advantages

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Evelyn James

Evelyn James is an emerging freelance writer who's passionate about environmental issues and sustainable living. Since the start of lockdown, she's been creating content that she hopes people will find valuable. When she isn't writing, she can be found either out hiking up mountains or curled up with tea and chocolate.

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