There are many things you can do to make your house more environmentally friendly, including using rainwater for some of your water needs. Here are five things homeowners need to know about rainwater harvesting systems.
How do rainwater harvesting systems work?
Rainwater harvesting systems allow you to collect the rain that falls on your property and then store that water for later use. This can be done by making fairly simple modifications to your roof. Your home probably already has eaves and downspouts that allow water to flow off the roof and onto the ground, so you already have the first part of a rainwater harvesting system. Simple modifications can allow you to store the water that comes out of your downspout instead of wasting it.
Your plumber will connect a pipe to your downspout to divert the water to a rainwater storage tank. This tank can be installed either aboveground or belowground, depending on your preference. The saved rainwater can then be used for a variety of purposes around your home and garden.
In the simplest systems, the tank is not connected to your home's plumbing system. In these systems, you can use a bucket to access the water, or you can have an outdoor hose attached to it. In more complex systems, your home's plumbing system can be attached to the tank, and you can use the water from the tank to flush your toilets, to run your washing machine, and for other non-potable uses.
What are the benefits of these systems?
Rainwater harvesting systems are good for the environment, but they also offer many benefits for homeowners. Here are a few reasons why people install these systems:
- Helping to conserve water;
- Having a supply of water to last through droughts;
- Not needing to rely on the municipal water supply;
- Not needing to worry about municipal water restrictions, as you control your water supply;
- Reducing your water bill;
- Eligibility for tax credits.
How effective are these systems?
A well-designed rainwater harvesting system can collect as much as 85% of the rainfall during the winter months but less during the summer due to increased evaporation.
Many different factors impact the amount of water you can collect. An obvious factor is the amount of rainfall you get, but other factors, like the size of your roof, also play a role. Even the type of shingles you have can have an impact! This makes it hard to predict the exact volume of water that you'll be able to collect. Your plumber will be able to estimate this volume after studying your house and choosing a system design.
How much water can be stored?
Rainwater tanks come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from relatively-tiny 75 gallon tanks to massive tanks that can hold millions of gallons. Your plumber can help you choose the most appropriate tank for your needs. For example, if you will be using the water for your lawn and flowers, a smaller tank may be all you need. If you want to use the water for indoor use as well, like flushing toilets, you may need a much larger size.
Can all homeowners install these systems?
Many states have laws regarding rainwater harvesting systems, so before you decide to install one, make sure to check your local laws. In some states, like Colorado, there are laws that restrict the use of these systems, while in other states, you just need to get a permit to install the system. In other states, it's even easier, and you don't need a permit.
If you are interested in installing a rainwater harvesting system, talk to your plumber. If you need plumbing repairs as well, now is the perfect time to make an appointment so you can get both of these things done at once.