Money Does Fall from the Sky: Harvesting Rainwater for the Home

Money Does Fall from the Sky: Harvesting Rainwater for the Home

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By Elaine VonCannon, ABR, SRES, Associate Broker, Notary, Team Leader, Property Manager, Award Winning Agent

In a world of animal extinction, melting ice caps and air pollution many people are becoming more aware of the importance of renewable resources and the power of green building. Environmentally friendly houses can equal thousands of dollars in savings for many homeowners and as the green trend grows in popularity so will the affordability of products and services related to this type of real estate. One way to conserve and live a green lifestyle is to harvest rainwater for use in your home. Harvesting rainwater is a fairly simple and affordable process that can be used for indoor and outdoor needs.

If You Build It Can You Drink It?

The quality of rainwater varies based on the location of your home. Highly polluted regions can be affected adversely, but in general the water quality of rain is good overall. Rainwater, in order to be harvested, must be captured. The most common way of capturing the rainwater is a rooftop catchment, although catchments can also be built on the ground. With a simple rooftop and gutter design rain can be collected and transferred through a filter system and into a tank or cistern. The gutters or pipes are used to convey the water and the cistern is then used for storage and, when needed, water is pumped into the home or into an irrigation system. The key to water quality after it is harvested is maintenance. Homeowners must make certain the catchment system is clear of debris and the water cistern is clean. A regular dose of maintenance product will keep the water from growing bacteria and other unhealthy things. One great green idea is the use of a slow sand filter, which has been proven to remove almost all suspended solids from rainwater. There are a variety of purification systems that can be purchased from the most primitive to the most technological.

It's Easy to Retire Green

A friend of mine, Yianni Diamapopoulos (we'll just call him Yianni), a retired man originally from Greece, currently lives in a small, comfortable house he built himself. Upon completing his rural, cottage home Yianni did not want to spend the money to build a well and he was too far from town to have water provided by the city. Instead he opted to purchase a small cistern to hold 800 gallons of water and built a basic rainwater harvesting system. "Since I knew it was going to be just me living here I knew I did not need a lot of water," states Yianni, "Plus the rain is free, which saves me money." The cistern cost a mere $450.00 and the rest of the money went towards a water heater, gutter system, filtering system and plumbing. Rainwater systems can be elaborate and expensive or simple and affordable. Yianni's system is simple and easy to maintain. He chooses not to use the water for drinking, but the shower, washing machine, water hose for the garden, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and toilet can all be run with the rainwater system. His total cost was approximately $1000.00. "Now that I am enjoying retirement I want to live as efficiently as possible in order to travel," states Yianni. "I don't have to sacrifice my comfort," he continues, "and in four years I have never even come close to running out of water."

Savings Galore

Harvesting rainwater is an ancient concept that began in Asia and can be traced back thousands of years. It is exciting to think a practice from so long ago can generate savings for homeowners living in expensive, modern times. Not only can rain harvesting systems save money each month by doing away with the regular household water bill, there are also many places in the United States where environmentally friendly and green building practices are supported with tax incentives. Be sure to consult your local, state or federal agency to find out how to take advantage of tax credits and government savings. To learn more about green building and real estate visit my web site and read "Living Off The Grid: Tax Incentives for Alternative Electric Systems".