Using Rainwater in Your Home

Learn how to bring rainwater indoors to help your home run smoothly and cut your water bill in half.

| April 2018

  • Using rain indoors can cut your water bill in half.
    Photo by Pixabay/artyangel
  • “The Water-Wise Home” by Laura Allen offers countless ways to use less water in your home.
    Photo courtesy of Storey Publishing

The Water-Wise Home (Storey, 2015) by Laura Allen examines every crack and crevice of your home, looking for ways to radically reduce water use in your home, and shave a few bucks off your water bill in the process. Allen’s guide shows you how to use every drop of water in your home efficiently, making sure nothing goes to waste. The following excerpt is her guide to using rainwater indoors.

Using rainwater indoor is the best way to maximize water savings, especially in Mediterranean climates where there’s no outdoor irrigation need during the wet season. Indoor rainwater systems are more complex than irrigation systems, and it’s important to seek professional advice. However, if you have professional experience or are a very handy DIYer, there is good technical information available to help you with the installation, although a consultation with an experienced installer is recommended.

Treatment or Purification Systems

All over the world rainwater is used for washing, cleaning, and drinking, without filters or disinfection. However, in the U.S. and Canada most potable systems do include filtration and disinfection. An increasingly popular option in homes connected to a municipal water supply is to use rainwater for non-potable indoor uses: toilet flushing and washing machines. These systems are easier to get permitted, cost less, and don’t require as much treatment as whole-house potable water systems.

For nonpotable use of rainwater (e.g., irrigation or toilet flushing), filters remove particles in rainwater to prevent clogging in a pump, drip emitter, or plumbing fixture. Nonpotable indoor systems also require filtration to prevent odor or discoloration in toilets or washing machines. Drinking water systems require filtration as well as disinfection so there are no disease-­causing organisms in the water.

Types of Filters for Indoor Water

NSF International (NSF) certifies filters and provides a list of drinking water treatment units with NSF certification. Drinking water systems typically use three types of filters:

Particle filters to remove sediment and grit from the water. Particles in rainwater are filtered out by cartridge filters. Rainwater is pumped through a filter that captures particles of different sizes. Installed in a row, each filter screens out smaller and smaller particles.



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