It’s not often we thank our lucky stars for all the rain we enjoy in the UK, especially not after the start to the summer we’ve had. However, from a sustainability standpoint, our grey skies and miserable weather are a veritable gold mine.
You might not be familiar with the concept of harvesting rainwater, but it’s most definitely a thing. Households UK-wide are utilising harvesting systems to safety collect and filter the water from our skies, which they can then use for a multitude of essential household tasks.
This offers a raft of financial and ecological benefits, but why exactly should you be considering it?
The benefits of harvesting rainwater
There’s plenty of ways harvesting rainwater benefits users:
Reduce your water bills: It’s much cheaper to use rainwater than water provided by a municipal supply. This can work on an individual or community basis. Where the latter is concerned, the more people using rainwater harvest, the less demand on municipal sources – reducing the overall cost to supply mains water.
Reduce flooding and erosion risk: Filtering rainwater into storage can limit erosion risk around downspouts and the garden. If you’re based in a flood hazard area, creating a focused run off can reduce risk.
Soft water for multi-purpose use: Rainwater is soft water, meaning, aside from drinking, it’s useful for pretty much everything else on the house. More on that below.
Good for your plants: Rainwater is usually free from pollutants and contaminants, as well as the chlorination process our water supply is subject to. This makes it clean and healthy for plants, particularly those kept in temperate conditions like greenhouse and Premier Polytunnels, which otherwise have no exposure to rainwater.
Reduce strain on ground resources: Not so much an issue in the UK, but worldwide drought periods can cause major strain on ground resources. The more people using rainwater, the less demand under-resourced ground areas face.
Other than for drinking water, rainwater offers ideal use in various household tasks, including the ones that use the most water on a daily basis.
Outside the house:
Garden watering: with some homes using hundreds of litres of drinking water each year to water their plants, rainwater makes the perfect replacement.
Car washing: the average hosepipe uses 10 litres a minute, with 10-100 litres used with every car wash.
Filling ponds: ponds are much better off topped up with natural rainwater, which is better for the wildlife.
Inside the house:
Flushing the toilet: with the average toilet using over 13 litres of water per flush, and
even eco-toilets using four, rainwater offers a great solution.
Washing clothes: because of its soft makeup, rainwater is great for washing clothes without the need for too much powder and detergent. This makes even more sense in hardwater areas.
General cleaning: mopping the floors, washing the windows or doing the washing up (rainwater gives a great finish due to its lack of calcium and chlorine content)
It’s easy to set up
Rainwater Harvesting- Simple and Affordable?
All of the above sound good? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that setting up a harvesting system can be both simple and inexpensive. Of course, it depends on how comprehensive you want your system to be, but every harvesting process follows a basic collection, transportation and storage concept.
Costs of a Rainwater Harvesting system
Costs range from around £70 for a basic 200 litre container through to £2,000-£3,000 for a fully functioning domestic system set up in your home. Even at the top end, the future cost savings coupled with the ecological benefits make a harvesting system a potential value buy.
So, next time you see the skies getting darker and some traditional British weather on its way, just remember each and every each and every drop of water coming down can be used to help both you and the planet.