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Harvest Rainwater to Reduce Your Water Bill!

The harvesting of rainwater is an age-old method that's been around for thousands of years. Essentially, it's about gathering rain and storing it for later – and it's just as smart now as it was back in the day.

Rain Barrel Water Catchment System
via flickr:

In a basic rainwater setup, a rain barrel is set up next to your home. Your roof collects rain and snowmelt and directs it into the gutters, and then, thanks to gravity, this water flows through a downspout into your rain barrel. Filters and screens can be added to keep debris out.

At the bottom of the barrel, there's a spigot – a fancy term for a tap – making it incredibly easy to access the water. And guess what? You can expand your setup by adding more barrels. The best part is, you can start small with a do-it-yourself arrangement that won't break the bank or take up all your free time.

Now, let's talk about why saving rainwater is smart. First and foremost, it's a free source of clean water, which is fantastic, especially during dry spells. Rainwater is also the best of the best when it comes to water sources – it contains none of the chemicals that you find in city water. It's perfect for tasks like watering your garden, filling up a pool, or giving your furry friend a bath.

But here's the brilliant part – rainwater harvesting puts you in control of your water supply. You're not solely dependent on city water or a well. It's like having your own reserve for times when water is scarce or too expensive. Plus, it's a backup plan for emergencies.

And here's the real deal – it's not just about you. Saving rainwater is a fantastic way to be mindful about water and not waste it like it's unlimited.

For the numbers enthusiasts, a modest roof can collect hundreds of gallons from just an inch of rain. So, if you want to get fancy, you can use this formula: catchment area (in square feet) x rainfall depth (in inches) x 0.623 (conversion factor) = harvested water (in gallons)

And hey, in case you didn’t know - there are rebates available through the RDN for setting up a larger rainwater collection system (with a minimum storage capacity of 1,000 gallons) (link: Something to look into if you’re in the market for such a thing!

For your enjoyment, here are some smaller non-potable outdoor rainwater collection system setups that I've found, from the super simple to slightly more complex:

Garbage Can Rain Barrel

One of the most affordable and straightforward ways to begin is with this simple arrangement. All you need is a 32-gallon plastic trash can with a lid, a brass faucet featuring two threaded washers, and a flexible gutter downspout.

via This Old

The Enclosed Rain Barrel

For a subtle rain collection system, encase the rain barrel within a sturdy wooden shell. After finishing, apply a coat of paint to seamlessly integrate it with its surroundings.

Link for instructions:

via Family

Rain Barrels with PVC Piping

In this DIY project it shows how to link to or more rain barrels together, complete with overflow piping and a garden hose attachment for irrigation.

Link for instructions:


Vertical Rain Barrel System

If you're inclined to build "up" instead of "out," this system positions the rain barrels horizontally, enabling them to be stacked atop one another. The setup is supported by a wooden frame for stability.

Link for instructions:

via Build It

Homesteader Rain Collector

Ideal for expansive gardens with substantial water needs, this 2,500-gallon configuration comes equipped with additional features such as a water pump, overflow system, and a first-flow diverter. The diverter flushes the initial few gallons of collected rain, preventing the accumulation of dust and dirt in the cistern.

Link for instructions:

What I've learned...

Harvesting rainwater is a time-honored and clever way to ensure you've got a stash of clean, free water when you need it. Whether you're starting with a basic rain barrel or dreaming big with an elaborate rainwater setup, the beauty lies in the simplicity of it all. Forget about being at the mercy of city water or wells – rainwater harvesting puts you in the driver's seat of your water supply. I hope this inspires you to consider ways in which you can perhaps set up even just a simple rainwater collection system of your own!


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