In the summer months, when lots of us will be taking advantage of the warmer weather to get on with some gardening, the percentage of our water usage taken up by outdoor activities can rise from 7% to 50%, according to information from Waterwise. While most commonly associated with areas where rainwater is scarce, rainwater harvesting is a useful technique for homeowners in any location, allowing you to conserve water for use both in the garden and the home whilst also potentially saving money on your water bills.
What is rainwater harvesting?
As the name suggests, rainwater harvesting involves harvesting water that has fallen from the sky for reuse later on. While traditional rainwater harvesting systems allow collected rainwater to be used outdoors for irrigation, new technology now allows rainwater harvesting systems to be plumbed directly into your home's existing pipework for non-potable purposes such as flushing the toilet.
What are the benefits?
Rainwater harvesting offers both environmental and economic benefits, allowing you to conserve water for non-potable purposes (activities other than drinking) so that precious drinking water can be used as it should be - for drinking! However, when choosing a model of tank it's important to carefully weigh up elements such as the costs of purchase and installation, size and location of the system against any potential benefits it may offer. One system won't be suitable for everyone.
One of the main types of rainwater harvesting systems collects water for use in plant irrigation and other outdoor activities. A common system could simply be a water butt connected to a down pipe from the guttering system but more complex systems can involve installing a tank underneath an artificial lawn - essentially a water filter made from AstroTurf which traps dirt as water collects underneath. One disadvantage of this type of system is the deep excavation required, which means that they are often almost impossible to retrofit. A typical model should cost around £3,600 including VAT.
New rainwater harvesting technology allows you to buy systems which connect to your indoor plumbing system so that rainwater can be used around the home. Installation should be performed by a competent plumber, with the cost of pumping water around the house costing around 10p a week. Bear in mind that the size of tank you'll need will depend on how much rainwater you typically get, as well as how much you tend to use. This is important as you should try to avoid having stagnant water stored in your system, due to storing more water than you use.
To ensure maximum efficiency and to minimise maintenance later on, be sure to get your rainwater harvesting system fitted by a Quality Plumber. Search for one in a matter of minutes by postcode on the APHC website at http://www.aphc.co.uk/find_an_installer.asp.