Rainwater harvesting: using the weather to pay your bills

Rainwater harvesting: using the weather to pay your bills

Harvesting the rain seems like a no-brainer. But is it too expensive? And could you live with an AstroTurf lawn?

Greywater systems: can they reduce your water footprint?

Rainwater harvesting systems (RHS) – as you might expect from the name – harvest the rainwater that has fallen freely from the sky, typically onto the roof of your home. In contrast to the humble water butt, which typically captures about 200 litres of rainwater, a rainwater harvesting tank can easily filter and store up to 6,500 litres of clean water.

 

What’s more, while these systems have traditionally been used to water the garden, new technology means an RHS can now be plumbed into your home’s existing pipework and the rainwater used to flush toilets and wash clothes. This means that you could reduce your water consumption by as much as 40%, according to the Rainwater Harvesting Association, which – if you switch to a water meter – will lower your water bills as well.

 

Rainwater harvesting v greywater recycling

The amount of water you save with one of these systems is lower than the 50% savings that you can potentially get with a greywater recycling system because rainwater supply is less certain. “You will need to be able to rely on your mains water system as a backup during periods where there is little

 

However, unlike a greywater recycling system, RHS requires little specialist maintenance and the rainwater you harvest – as it has never been used to wash food or the human body – is likely to contain far less bacteria and contaminants than greywater. This can make RHS a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly choice for many homeowners, say the proponents of these schemes. So what’s out there and how do they work?

 

Rainwater harvesting systems that plumb into your home

If you’re looking for an RHS that will allow you to use the water to flush the toilet, wash clothes in the washing machine and even clean the house, as well as water the garden, and you’re prepared to excavate your garden, one of your best options is a Raincatcher system. “The tank has a self-cleaning filter that you only need to check on it once a year. It costs about £2,500 for a 2,700 litre tank, and a buried tank isn’t affected by heat change or light, so the water doesn’t go green and smelly.”