As people become more environmentally aware, rain harvesting systems are becoming an increasingly popular way to reduce the strain on fresh water resources. Using rain water instead of municipal water has become law in areas that have ‘Green Laws’ such as Germany and California. Eco-minded people in other parts of the world look to rain harvesting systems to save both water and money. No matter why you are looking to install a rainwater collection system, you need to first decide how you want to use the water and its source so you can choose the system that is right for your needs.
Living in town means your municipality supplies your water for a fee. As the price of everything goes up, using rain water to irrigate your lawn and garden is a great way to save a few dollars. This is particularly true during the dry summer months when most towns put a restriction on lawn watering. Collecting rain water in a cistern that is connected to underground irrigation pipes will allow you to water your grass with natural rainwater without turning on the hose.
If your water comes from a well, or even if you live in town, using rainwater to flush toilets and shower makes both environmental and economic sense. Collecting rainwater from your roof and property run off, filtering it and storing it in a cistern or well can drastically reduce what you are spending on water every month. When installing such a system you can easily divert rainwater to the rooms with heaviest water consumption: the bathroom and the kitchen. Reserving one or two taps in the home, such as the kitchen sink, will guarantee you properly treated municipal drinking water.
Most rainwater systems are gravity fed, collecting water from downspouts into a tank in the basement. Once primed, the home pipe system will be able to get water up to the second floor using the gravitational pull of a siphon, much the same way homes on town water do. A gravity fed rainwater collection system is the most ecologically and economically friendly system, as there is no added cost to pump the water. Once you have paid to have the system installed there are no further costs.
In drier climates where the rainwater collected from your roof isn’t enough to meet your needs, a pump driven rainwater collection system will allow you to fill your well from all four corners of your property. Whether it’s a sump pump in a wet basement or one located in a culvert at the edge of your property, a pump can get rainwater to where you want it. Most pumps can be set to turn on when there is a sufficient amount of water, a feature which keeps them from being damaged from running dry and from forcing you to turn them on and off. An automated pump will also let you collect rainwater even when you are not home.
Beginner’s Rain Barrel
If your budget is preventing you from installing a more complex system, you can start your rainwater collection by simply placing a rain barrel under one of your downspouts. Although any barrel can do the trick, a proper rain barrel will keep insects from breeding and provides a spout for easy water retrieval. A rain barrel offers an eco-novice to benefit from nature’s showers to water their garden.