Rainwater harvesting is essentially storing rainwater for reuse. It can be used for drinking water (if it’s in a clean storage water tank or well), irrigation, or gardening.
Advantages of harvesting rainwater include: it saves money on utility bills, it reduces water contamination, it’s free, it’s better for your laundry as you won’t need detergents, it’s available even when power is interrupted, and it’s naturally pure and free of pesticides.
How to harvest rainwater
So, if one likes the advantages and wants to begin harvesting rainwater, where do you start? First, you need an area to collect the rainwater. This is anywhere the water won’t soak into the ground, mainly the gutters on your roof. On average, you’ll get 600 gallons of water in one hour of moderate rainfall. Not bad!
Next, you’ll need gutters to direct the rainwater downwards into rain barrels. These are called downspouts, and can be made from aluminum or plastic. Between the downspout and the barrel you’ll want to insert some sort of filter or mesh screen in order to prevent any junk or bugs from getting into the water.
And finally, once the rain barrels are full, you can store them. You can have as many or as few barrels as you need, and you can build your own or purchase them. Purchase a hose or pump so you can retrieve the rainwater from the barrels when needed.
Tip: If you only need rainwater for outdoor use, such as gardening, a ground rainwater harvesting system is a simpler approach than the rooftop one. Collect the water via pipes that lead to underground or aboveground tanks. Since the quality of water isn’t as good due to it hitting the ground, do not drink.
Is it expensive?
The beauty of harvesting rainwater is that it is what you make of it. If you want a complex system that requires little to no work on your part, then yes, plan on spending tens of thousands of dollars. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a simple system and willing to put in some time and effort, it won’t cost you more than a couple hundred dollars.
Are there any disadvantages?
Just like anything, there are disadvantages to harvesting rainwater. It does require a lot of maintenance on your part – from cleaning gutters and pipes to pumping water out of the barrels or water tanks as needed to making sure the water doesn’t get contaminated.
If you’re willing to maintain the system, then this is a great way to save money on your water bill if you live in the city. Think about it – if you had a sprinkler system that normally used the city pipes but you were able to use your own free water instead – you could save hundreds of dollars per year.
Keep in mind, if you plan on using the rainwater for inside the home – for drinking purposes, laundry, or showering – you’ll have to check with your state and building. This can also get expensive since you’ll need to install new pipes connecting your water to the desired use.
Source: Sarah Brooks (Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ, with her husband and baby girl. She covers a wide variety of topics from personal finance and small businesses to food and nutrition.)
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