Just the other day I wrote about our self sufficient philosophy and how water plays an important part in it. This article is going to very comprehensively give you the kick up the bum you need to start saving rainwater by using at the very minimum rain barrels if not a proper rainwater harvesting system.
If you are reading this because you want to learn how to install a rainwater harvesting system or are wondering where to buy them then I will explain it all. One thing I will say before we get started is that if you want to start collecting rainwater then don’t be like other people who state such things.
Sorry to shout 🙂 but all too often people talk and never act. I will be providing links to the lowest priced ways to harvest rainwater and if you are serious about it then buy one today. Not tomorrow, not the next day but now. This will then motivate you to get on with whatever amendments you need to do for when it arrives.
If you simply want a water butt or rain barrel to collect a few hundred lites of rainwater then there is basically no work involved. For large rainwater harvesting systems then there may be much more involved but you will keep putting it off unless you have an incentive. Buy one today and in a week you will be harvesting rainwater to supply your house with free water.
Rainwater Harvesting Products
There is a massive range of rainwater harvesting products available so you can collect rainwater whatever amount of exterior space you have. We will start off small and work our way up.
Water butts, or rainwater barrels or rain barrels, whatever you call them personally are usually small enough to site just next to the down pipe. We shall look at those first as there is absolutely no reason why everyone should not have at least a rain barrel to collect a little of the otherwise wasted gift from the heavens.
Rain Barrels – Rainwater Barrels
Here we have a fairly basic rain barrel although it does the job of collecting rain very well. We have a filter for the top and a great tap and hose at the bottom. Simple but very effective. There are lots of other similar and cheaper rainwater barrels available so be sure to have a look.
Even something like this can make a vast difference to the amount of water you use over the course of a year and every house should have one.
For the more design conscious amongst us, or if you are unable to hide the rain barrel then consider a terracotta rain barrel. Still not overly expensive they come with a tap and are simple to install.
For anyone who has resisted buying a simple rain barrel because they don’t know how to install it then nothing could be simpler.
Installing basic rain barrels like these is simply a matter of placing it wherever you wish and running the down pipe from the gutter to it. The easiest way is to place it directly below where the down pipe is at present and simply cut of the pipe so it runs in to the rainwater barrel instead of the drain. Buy one today and you will be getting free water in a few days.
I am now going to discuss rainwater tanks. These are much more what we should all be looking to install. You can buy above ground rainwater tanks or below ground rainwater tanks. They may seem like a large cost but in reality they are not. If you install large rain harvesting systems then you can go off the mains and be self sufficient in water.
We don’t have to buy our water for 8 or 9 months of the year and we live in barren Spain. Many US states and certainly the whole of the UK can go off the mains completely and only pay sewage rates. You will get your money back in about a year or two at the most and then you will make massive savings on water every year for ever.
First the proof that I am not just writing a sales page.
We are off the mains so all our water is delivered by a tractor. We get 7000 litres (gallons?) delivered about two or three times a year and that’s it. It is dry here and we grow a ton of vegetables but it is enough.
Our system is not pretty but it is far away from the house as we have lots of land and it needs to be easily accessible by a tractor. Our rain harvesting system is the following.
We have the large 3000 litre tanks for water deliveries.
As you can see from the image I ran our down pipes in through the wall of our living room. Why? Because the house came with a large water cistern next to the original building. We knocked this stone cistern down to almost ground level and built up wall on what was a compound for animals and put a roof on. It is now a half finished living room.
The tank is under the floor and holds about 4000-5000 litres of water. When it gets full we pump the water up to our top tanks. This is done with a simple DC pump and a car battery. This is also how we pump our water from the top tanks down and in to the house.
I ran the down pipe through the wall and straight in to the below ground water cistern. I then built a fake wall so that the pipes are not seen. So, we have experience with both above ground rainwater harvesting systems and below ground rainwater harvesting systems.
It really is very simple to do. I will give some basic instructions on how to install rain harvesting systems later but for now let’s return to looking at larger rain harvesting tanks.
Rainwater Collection Systems
Large rainwater tanks.
A large rainwater tank means that you can be totally independent from the mains and save a lot of money. They really are a small investment when you think how much it costs to be on mains water. Large, above ground rainwater harvesting systems like these are so simple to install. You just run your down pipe from the gutter straight in and they even have built in pumps.
These tanks are ideal for anyone that has the room and they don’t actually take up as much space as you might think. A diameter of five feet is all the space they take up. Systems like this are extremely easy to install yourself or a few hours of a plumbers time. Many people use them for extra water storage for the garden which is great but why not supply your whole household? A few simple filters can mean that you can supply all the water needs for your home with a rainwater harvesting system. You can buy special filters to make the water potable or simply buy drinking water, as many people do anyway.
Using Rainwater To Flush Toilets
Some people do not want to have the whole house connected to rainwater harvesting systems and simply want to run the toilet from rain barrels or a larger rainwater storing system. Whether you want to run the whole house or a single appliance or a toilet on rainwater the principles are the same.
First you will need a simple pump. A submersible pump or not, it makes little difference. Look at all these pumps on Amazon. They go from $40 upwards so it is not a big spend. This pump will be sited in the rain barrel or the larger rainwater harvesting system or near to them if they are not submersible.
A simple length of plastic pipe then goes from the pump in to the water in the case of external pumps. You then simply run a piece of pipe to wherever the water supply is. Either direct to the main stop cock for total household supply or to the pipe where the individual toilet is.Then you will simply have to put a simple connection first to stop the mains water supplying the toilet. After that you will connect the pipe from the rainwater system to the water pipe leading to the toilet or appliance.
It is very simple. If you went to any plumbers merchant they will tell you exactly what you need if you just take a piece of the pipe running from the pump or better yet simply take the pump (they are cheaper on Amazon than at most stores) and tell them what you want to do.
Alternatively you can simply buy the pump and the rainwater collection system and call a plumber. It really is about an hours work so won’t cost too much to employ a plumber.
And in conclusion….
I really do hope that this has inspired you to at least ensure that you buy a rain barrel if not a complete rainwater harvesting system. They will drastically cut how much you pay for water and if you want you could go off the mains completely.
We are, and for all apart from the Summer months we run our house on water collected from our roofs. It is a simple system to set up and if we can do it in Spain then anyone can.
If you have any questions then please let me know, but buy at least a rain barrel today. Stop putting it off.
For a more self sufficient future