Last week we blogged about the cost of solar power for your home. That got us thinking about other ways to lower household utility bills while also being environmentally conscious. One such idea is recycling rainwater. There are both simple and complex systems for recycling and storing rainwater, but we’d like to focus on one of the less expensive options to find out just how much it costs and how much you can save on your water bill.
Before we get into the details, be aware that this technique does not filter the water for consumption. The water that is stored should not be consumed, but only used for things like watering the garden or washing outdoor items.
How to Recycle Rainwater
Things you need: Barrel with lid, downspout, screen, spigot, hose, flexible tubing or PVC, drill, saw, caulk, cinder blocks.
Total cost: $50 – $200
- Drill a hole in lid of the barrel for the downspout.
- Drill another on the side of the barrel, about 4-6 inches from the bottom, and install the spigot. Be sure the size of the hole matches the spigot. Apply caulk to the hole before installing to ensure a waterproof seal.
- Drill one more hole in the side, near the top of the barrel. This is for overflow. Install a hose (with a sealed coupling) to divert the overflow away from the barrel and your home.
- Create a level surface where you want to place the barrel under your downspout next to your home. Place the barrels on a raised platform, like cinder blocks.
- Once the barrel is in place, measure and cut your downspout so it reaches the barrel. You can also use additional pieces of aluminum or PVC pipe to attach the spout to the barrel.
- Install a screen or filter where the pipe enters the barrel. This will minimize debris in the water, and prevent clogging.
All of the materials you need for a rain barrel system should be available at your local hardware store. A store employee should also be able to help you with any questions about installing a rain barrel. Specially made barrels can purchased for around $100 – $200. A less expensive option is a trash barrel for $20 – $30. The rest of the parts can be bought as a kit for around $30.
Your state or city may have regulations about installing such systems, so be sure to check with your local government before moving forward.
Does Recycling Rainwater Save Money?
For a system like this, it’s hard to calculate exactly what the savings might be. This is not water that you will use to drink, cook, and shower. So, it doesn’t make sense to factor in your typical household water bill. However, if you have a lawn and garden that you water frequently, then a rain barrel system may be helpful in reducing the bill.
Aside from the financial savings, this is also an environmentally friendly way to care for your plants. Some areas may place water usage restrictions in hot seasons. With a rain barrel system, you can have some water stored up to feed your lawn and garden without putting a burden on your local water supply.