How To Collect and Preserve Rainwater For Home and Garden Use
Did you know that the average American uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day? You’d be surprised to find out that we use more water than we thought we do.
The simple act of sending your excrements to the aether by flushing it down the toilet uses up 1.6 – 3 gallons of water. Outdoor watering uses up to 2 gallons per minute. If that doesn’t sound significant enough for you, reports show that 40% of household water consumption is used outdoors. A washing machine used to use about 40 gallons per load. Newer devices use less, around 25 gallons per load.
Although my website is more focused on the issues related to the drinking water, I have decided to include the topic of rainwater preservation into this website. I feel like it is essential to address the attention to these things, as for some of you who live in the wet part of the earth, rainwater can supply pretty much 100% of your needs.
You and I both know the importance of conserving water: it’s good for the environment, it minimizes the effects of drought, and it reduces the money we spend to pay the bills.
We’ve mostly turned to technology to solve our over-consumption of water. It gives us more efficient machines that do this for us. Shower heads and faucets deliver less gallon per minute. Flushes use less water. But there’s another way to conserve water that many people might not have thought of: collecting rainwater.
Collecting rainwater is, and always will be, free. No one has a monopoly on rain. If you can harvest it, then you can use it. To give you an idea on how much rainwater you can collect, 1 inch of rainfall on a 2,0000 sq ft. the roof gives you 1,250 gallons of water.
Besides, rainwater can be relatively clean (Unless you’re living in Kanpur, India, the most polluted city in the world. Check your area’s pollution levels to find out how clean your air is. With proper treatment, you can even use it for human consumption.
In the US, different states have different laws regarding collecting rainwater.
Some states, like Philadelphia, actively encourage people to collect rainwater. Most states have rainwater collection laws that outline acceptable collection methods. Some of these states are Illinois, Arizona, Ohio, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. Some places like Texas require a permit to collect rainwater so be sure to do a little research.
Now that you’ve learned why collecting rainwater makes sense, I want to share with you how to collect rainwater for home use, how to preserve rainwater, and what you can use it for.
How To Collect Rainwater
Rainwater collecting is a simple process where you turn a roof into a collecting system. A piping system collects all that rain pouring down on your roof, filters it using a screen, and channels it into a storage unit. Now, this basic system has been designed in many ways.
If you have a bit of a DIY work ethic, then you can even build one yourself! It’s as easy as installing a gutter on your roof that flows into a garbage can with an overflow pipe drilled into it. Of course, the bigger the storage unit, the more money you will save in the long run. To give you an idea, you can get a rain barrel and link a few of them together for more space.
A fun instructable I found online is for the standalone rain collector. All the components of a rainwater collecting system are bundled into one unit for something perfect for outdoor use. If you have a creative side, you can even customize it to look the way you want.
And if you’re serious about it, there are large tanks that can be stored in a shed or installed under the ground. These bigger tanks are usually not DIY and must be installed by professionals. And if you’re going the route of buying one, why stick to boring choices?
The WaterFence is a fence, or more appropriately, a wall that store water inside it. It’s green, as it’s made from recycled materials, it’s unobtrusive (there’s no big tank on your property) and it looks good! Plus, you’ll always have something to brag about at parties.
Or, if you have an under space in your home, you can install a bladder tank, like the RainPac. Similar to a waterbed in appearance, this water storage unit is a great way to collect your rainwater.
How to Preserve Rain Water
As mentioned before, we can collect 1,250 gallons of water from 1 inch of rainfall on a 2,000 square feet roof. We also know that an average person uses 80-100 gallons of water daily. Now, if we have a tank big enough, we’ll have a surplus of water!
So how do we keep the rainwater in the best way possible?
Well, for one, you want it to be clear from contaminants. When I say contaminants I mean dry leaves, insect parts, animal droppings, and other unwanted stuff. A gutter mesh is necessary for clean rainwater. Make sure to close the lid. An open cover is risking your chances of contaminants polluting your rainwater.
You should also prevent mosquitoes from breeding in it by installing a mosquito mesh. For cleaning, toilet and gardening purposes, the rainwater you’ve collected should last indefinitely. Drinking rainwater should always be done by filtering and treating the water.
Every three months, check your mosquito mesh is in order and clean out your gutter to avoid fecal matter from entering the tank. Every six months, check your water quality. Smell it, see its color, and poke around to look at your level of sediments. Your tank should be flushed out of sediments every two years by a contractor.
5 Ways To Use Rain Water In Your Household
1. Outdoor Use
What better way to use rainwater than to water your plants? When you think about it, most plants in the wilderness get their water from rain anyway. Plus, it’s good for them!
Tap water has higher levels of chlorine and fluoride in them. These chemicals are harmful to plants. It could even be toxic to some species of plants. What makes rainwater perfect for plants is because it is soft water. Soft water does not contain trace minerals other than sodium, as opposed to hard water which contains noticeable amounts of minerals like calcium or magnesium.
Besides watering your plants, you can use rainwater for cleaning windows, cars, and pets. Since rain is soft water, it will not leave a visible film or scum behind.
Other than that, you can use it to fill up ponds and fountains if you have one.
2. Indoor Washing
Using rainwater to clean your house is another great use of it. Soft water goes well with soap as it lathers better than hard water. Clean your clothes, mop your floors, and scrub your bathroom with it. Some people wash their dishes with rainwater, while others filter it first. You can always install an under the sink or countertop water filter for your faucets for filtration.
3. Flushing Your Toilet
We know that flushing the toilet is a massive waste of water. We also know that we don’t need the purest water to get the job done. So why not use rainwater?
You’d have to make some home improvement to set it up, but this single lifestyle switch will have you saving money if you look at it long-term.
4. Bathing and Showering
The United States Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reports that rainwater is allowed for bathing and showering, as long as you avoid the mouth and nose area. This is not only safe, but it is also beneficial for your hygiene.
I do recommend you test out your water quality first though. City rain can be acidic, and you don’t want to shower in it. Water test kits are being sold on the market that can detect pH levels, chlorine levels, sodium levels, and other exciting stuff.
Soft water, again, is not as irritating to the skin as hard water. According to dermatologists, hard water can leave a film of residue that dilutes the body’s natural moisturizing factors. It can cause inflammation, dry skin, and cause skin reactions like atopic dermatitis.
In addition to that, the appearance of your skin and hair may improve by switching to rainwater. You might notice shinier hair and softer skin just by making this simple switch!
You can drink rainwater, and many others do it, but it requires filtration and treatment. The problem with untreated stormwater is the presence of bacteria like E.coli, but these bacteria die off after treatment.
For filtering, I recommend a countertop filter. It will purify most contaminants out of the water. Filtration can be done using charcoal filters, carbon filter, UV light, screen filters and other kinds. Most countertop filters have a few types of filters working in stages to produce the cleanest water possible.
Then, the water would have to go through purification. This can be done by adding chlorine(might not be the best choice for homeowners), ultraviolet light, and boiling.
Boiling would probably be the easiest method to purify rainwater without the need of filter investment. Just boil the water for one minute, then let it cool off. This will remove most contaminants in the water. However, if you have a lot of thirsty throats in your house, then this can be quite slow and expensive. Nonetheless, it’s useful.
Ultraviolet Light, on the other hand, uses a particular light bulb to penetrate and disrupt the genetic cell of the contaminants’ makeup. This prevents them from reproducing, rendering them harmless. UV light purification systems can be installed, and other than servicing of the equipment requires very little labor.
Another method that is available for you is distillation. Distillation is the process of heating up water and collecting its condensation. This condensation is free from inorganic minerals, metals, and bacteria.
If you’re an environmentally aware person, then there are also solar distillers in the market.
There you have it. Now you know why harvesting rainwater is such a good idea. Not only will you make your home a green home, but you will also save money doing it. Sometimes we can forget that greener alternatives can be a more efficient answer to our daily needs.
Share this article with your friends and start collecting rainwater!
Oh, if you’re currently collect rainwater but want to use it for drinking, then take a look at our reviews to find the right one for you. And if you have been collecting rainwater for some time, comment below and tell us how it’s going!