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Reusing Rainwater and Graywater = Saving Money

Updated on May 7, 2009

Reusing rainwater is something that has been around forever. Since the beginning of man, people have collected rain in buckets of all kinds to use later for drinking, bathing or watering plants and animals. This is nothing new, yet it does seem to be a new concept recently. With water coming so easily out of a tap, the practice of reusing water has fallen by the wayside. But as costs rise people are beginning to look into it more. Not just reusing rainwater, but reusing gray water as well.

Water is essential to all life and at any given time many areas of the planet suffer from droughts. This can be very difficult to deal with and reusing what rainwater they can and collecting and reusing gray water are necessary to keep anything alive. But how do you go about doing it? There are many rain harvesting systems, but the most popular among homeowners are barrels. Rain barrels are attached to your gutters and the barrels collect the rain. They can fill up surprisingly fast, and one is typically not enough. If you buy a rain barrel it should come with something that will divert the water back into the gutter system once it is full. Rain barrels should also come with a spigot near the bottom so you can easily drain the water out to reuse it. This makes it super easy to water your plants. You can make your own too; there are plenty of sites online that will show you how.

Reusing gray water is a bit harder, but typically doesn't require any special equipment like a rain barrel. You basically collect any water you can while going about your daily routine and use it to water plants, flush toilets or wash clothes. Types of gray water include extra water from your shower (place a bucket or two in there with you), water that you boiled eggs, vegetables or pasta in, water collected while rinsing dishes, etc. You do want to be careful what water you put where. For instance you don't want soapy or dirty water on edible plants, but it should be fine for flowers, grass or houseplants. A lot of gray water is not considered safe, so be careful where you use it.

There are a few things to consider when collecting water to reuse. Most importantly, is it legal? In some states it is not. So many towns and cities rely on the rivers and streams to provide them with water that they need all the runoff from cities up the line from them to meet their needs. Check with your state before you install any rain harvesting systems. Also, consider your climate and needs. If it rains infrequently where you live it will benefit you more to harvest what rainfall there is. It is likely that you pay a higher price for water to begin with and it could really save you money. If it rains every other day it won't be as beneficial to harvest rainwater.

If you are thinking that you could drink the rainwater you harvest, think again. It would require a complicated purification system in order to make this safe. It is possible, but difficult. Harvesting rainwater or gray water is something that is easily doable for most people and something to definitely consider.


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    • profile image

      Irish 8 years ago

      Nothing new to me,I grew up with rain water every day in Ireland. love it.

    • profile image

      Irish 8 years ago

      Nothing new to me,I grew up with rain water every day in Ireland. love it.

    • izzytellsall profile image

      izzytellsall 8 years ago

      What great tips on reusing rainwater--my wife and I are just about to set up a system to capture the rain from our roof so this will really come in handy. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Dawn 8 years ago

      I was just looking into this - very timely. Do you suggest any specific rain barrels? Do they have to be tied into the gutter system or can you just set them out away from the house (i.e. where the garden is)?

    • profile image

      dangerous diana 8 years ago

      I like your caring for the earth's water cycle.

    • agvulpes profile image

      Peter 8 years ago from Australia

      G'day Jennifer, I also live in Australia, in a outer suburban area of Melbourne. We do not have mains water and rely entirely on collected rain water. We must manage this carefully as we have seven persons living on the one property, although we do have a large storage area.

      We also reuse our grey water but it must go through a treatment process first.

    • Nemingha profile image

      Nemingha 8 years ago

      I live in rural New South Wales, Australia - one of the driest continents on earth! To a greater or lesser degree some areas seem to be always in a declared drought. Yet in the small country town where I live it is illegal to reuse grey water but many people (including myself) do it anyway. I think it shall make a most interesting court case if the local Council ever decided to police their own stupid laws and lay charges against the offenders.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      As an avid gardener, I can see the difference between watering with the hose (public water) and rain water - the plants like rain water much better!

    • thelesleyshow profile image

      TheLesleyShow 8 years ago from US

      What a great hub! Original topic of conversation. I never thought about reusing rain water but I live CA and it doesn't rain often enough or hard enough to make a difference I don't think? I should give it a try though for sure. Thanks for sharing. Thumbs up!

    • C.Ferreira profile image

      C.Ferreira 8 years ago from Rutland, VT

      Harvesting rain water is a great idea. This Hub reminds me of people who have built and live in "Earth Ships". They usually build some kind of rain harvesting system on their roofs that then is used throughout the house for everyday activities.

      Obviously, they have fairly high tech systems in place to purify the water and everything, but they are completely off the grid! I would love to get off the grid...