In a previous blog, we talked about the importance and benefits of collecting rainwater. Unfortunately, far too many people aren’t taking advantage of these great benefits because they think rainwater harvesting has to be a big, complicated operation. On a small scale, it can be as simple as gathering rainwater in a barrel and filtering it.
But, it’s also not difficult to create an incredible rainwater collection system at home. You can use the water for everything from irrigation and watering your garden, to washing your car or even cleaning around the house! Plus, collecting your own water can help you save hundreds of dollars, and is a great way to help the environment. So, if you’re interested in creating your own simple rainwater collection system, keep reading for a step-by-step guide.
- Gather Your Supplies
You can buy rain barrels online, but if you’re on a budget, you can even use a clean plastic trash bin as a perfectly acceptable barrel. For this particular harvesting system, you’ll also need two downspout extenders, a bulkhead fitting, a drain valve and a tube of gutter sealant.
Thankfully, all of these supplies can be found at just about any hardware store, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting started right away!
- Use the Downspout Extenders
The downspout extenders you choose should almost have an accordion-style look to them. This makes it easy to attach them to your downspouts and directly into a hole you’ll cut into the top of the rain barrel. The hole should be just big enough for the extender to fit in snugly.
- Secure the Spout
Use the bulkhead fitting, the drain valve and the gutter sealant to make sure the valve at the bottom of your barrel stays in place. Again, you’ll want to create a hole near the bottom part of the barrel that’s big enough for the valve, but not so big that it will fall out over time. The gutter sealant will really help to keep it in place, so make sure you’re generous with how much you use surrounding the valve.
- Easy Storage
Keep in mind that this is one of the simpler solutions for collecting rain water. You should always have some sort of screen or filtration device attached to your rain barrel if you plan on using it for things like washing dishes or other uses within the home. If you’re collecting water from your gutters, things like leaves and other debris can create problems if you’re not cleaning them regularly.
The best part about this system is that it’s easy to use and easy to store. In the winter months, you can remove the downspout extenders and store the rain barrel away. There are no complicated systems or pipes to worry about. It’s a great way to get started collecting rainwater that would otherwise literally be sliding down your gutters.
We hope this simple plan for rainwater collection will help you to get started on doing your part for the environment right away. Spring is in the air, and it’s the perfect time to create a simple collection system of your own. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you may even find that you’re excited to build an even bigger and better system!
Why is It Important?
On a global scale, our world is running low on water. It’s hard to believe or even fathom, but projections have suggested that by the year 2030, our demand for water will be greater than the supply. It can be a scary thought, but it’s also a strong motivational tool to make everyone more aware of their water footprint.
If you’ve never heard of a water footprint, now is the time to jump on board and understand what it means. The great thing about water footprints is that they are effective for everyone; individuals, small businesses, huge corporations, and even entire countries! The more in tune we are with our overall water footprints, the more we can strategize on how to conserve water and be more efficient with our water use.
What Are the Types of Water Footprints?
The Water Footprint Network has broken down water footprints into three different categories. These categories make it a little easier to determine how water can be used and reused, affecting the overall impact on the environment. The three types of water footprints are:
- Blue: Water that is either sourced from the ground or the surface. It’s either evaporated, used to create a new product, or is taken from one body of water and used in another. It can be used right away in a different body of water or saved for another time.
- Green: A green water footprint focuses on rainwater. It’s stored in the root systems of soil and is particularly useful for agricultural purposes.
- Grey: A grey water footprint deals with wastewater and pollution. It focuses on how much fresh water is needed in order to ‘flush out’ pollutants, on local and state levels.
Why Are Water Footprints Important?
Billions of people go without fresh drinking water every single day. Unfortunately, if current trends continue that number will grow. What we don’t often think about is how a shortage in water might affect other things. It goes far beyond an individual level.
For example, consider how much water it might take to create a product, or to grow crops to feed everyone in the United States alone. The less water that’s available, the harder it will be for those products to be made or those crops to grow. That means the prices for those things will skyrocket. Less people will be able to afford them.
A shortage of water, as you can see, affects the entire economy. It also affects our energy storage, since it takes energy to pump out clean water and filter away pollutants. Time, money, and resources all come into play when it comes to water conservation. Understanding more about a water footprint on every level can help to ensure things like this don’t happen. If they do, it could eventually be catastrophic for the whole world.
Water footprints affect all of us on both an indirect and eventually a direct level. The more we can strategize on how to conserve water and be more efficient with our water use. Before you, as an individual, have a chance to see the negative direct effects, it’s important to get a firm grasp on how you can monitor your own water footprint.
You probably know at least one person who practices rainwater harvesting/collecting. They may have a simple system like a collection bucket in their backyard for gardening. Or, they might have a complex contraption that allows them to use their collected rainwater for multiple purposes. Whatever the case, it’s good to be curious about harvesting rainwater yourself! Collecting rainwater can do more than just water your plants and vegetables. There are actually many benefits to this practice that you might not realize.
First of All, It’s Free!
One of the biggest benefits of collecting rainwater is that it doesn’t cost you anything. If you pay a monthly water bill, using collected water to replace any water you might use from a tap, hose, etc., can cut down on your costs. If you’re using rainwater for agricultural purposes, you can end up saving a lot of money and wasting a lot less water.
It’s also a clean source of water. If you’re using it to water a large garden or do any work outside, you don’t necessarily have to worry about any kind of filtration system. This cuts down on energy use.
It Has Multiple Purposes
Yes, rainwater is great for watering your garden. But, with the right systems in place you can also use it in your sprinklers to water your yard or do nearly any outdoor work that requires water. It’s perfect for washing your car, or even using inside to flush your toilets. Using clean, potable water to do these things is incredibly wasteful. Think about how much potable water you’re using on a daily basis for things that don’t necessarily need it? By switching to rainwater, you’re helping to lower your carbon footprint and utilizing a natural resource to its fullest ability.
Rainwater Conserves Ground Water
Some of our most precious resources are at risk of running out. One of those resources is ground water. Because of the ever-growing population and how much water is used across the world on a daily basis, ground water is something we severely take for granted. Our water sources are struggling to keep up. By collecting rainwater, you can extend the life of ground water and give our water sources a chance to relax and replenish.
How Much Can Harvesting Help?
In the grand scheme of things, there is no ‘perfect’ way to harvest rainwater. You can do it on a small scale or large scale. Any way you decide to do it will add to the benefits listed above. You’ll quickly find that not only is the practice useful for your life and can lower your bills, but it’s good for the planet.
If you’re not sure how to get started when it comes to collecting rainwater, don’t worry! In our next blog, we’ll go through a step-by-step guide that can help you set up your own personal harvesting system. The good news? It’s easier than you might think, and takes minimal time and effort. Once you have everything in place, you’ll be able to collect as much water as possible.
We usually get our water for daily tasks and drinking from potable water mains. But, it’s easy to waste that potable water doing things as simple as flushing toilets or running a load of laundry. Did you know that you can use non-potable water (water not suitable for drinking) to complete a variety of these tasks?
Keep in mind that it’s important to reduce all of our water use, overall. You can start by lessening how much you use drinking water. By using non-potable water instead, you could cut your utility bills and save on our existing water supply. It’s important to know the types of non-potable water, and how you can use them effectively in your daily routine.
Types of Non-Potable Water
There are various sources in which non-potable water comes from. The biggest sources include:
- Water that has been recycled – It can either be treated or untreated.
- Rain/storm water – This can be collected in barrels or as runoff from roofs, etc.
- Greywater – This is typically collected from showers, laundry, etc. Again, it can either be treated or untreated.
No matter what type of non-potable water you use, the most important thing to note is that it needs to be handled, stored, and transported correctly. Once you’ve been able to collect enough non-potable water, you can start putting it to good use and stop wasting so much potable water. Let’s take a look at some of the easiest and most convenient ways you can use non-potable water.
How Can I Use It?
Until recently, most non-potable water was used for irrigation systems. On a small scale, that means something like collecting rainwater in a bucket outside and using it to water your garden. On a large scale, it means collecting enough water to fully and consistently irrigate corporate farms and land.
Engineers have recently developed systems that can treat non-potable water in such a way that it can become even more useful. Because of this, there is an increasing demand for non-potable water, especially for businesses and larger corporations who can benefit from using less potable water. Separate systems need to be installed in order for non-potable water to be readily available to everyone, but this reality may not be far off. As it becomes more popular to use, utilizing water that isn’t suitable for drinking may become a more popular practice.
You can use it for things like:
- Flushing toilets
There are still many gray areas when it comes to how we can make the most of using non-potable water. As more people are recognizing how important it is to reuse, it’s likely to become more popular for businesses and home uses alike.
If you’re unsure about how to use non-potable water, a good place to start is to determine how it’s been treated. You can treat some forms of it with a home water-purification system or filtering system. Even then, you shouldn’t drink water that has ever been considered ‘non-potable.’ But, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great way to reuse it and reduce the amount of drinking water you typically waste on a daily basis.
Manufacturing companies have a lot to think about just to keep day-to-day operations running smoothly. Unfortunately, water conservation can fall to the bottom of the priority list for many of these companies. But, just because you have an industrial business doesn’t mean you can’t practice water-efficient solutions.
In fact, the bigger the industry, the better. Manufacturing companies can make a serious impact when it comes to water conservation. When big companies take the initiative to practice water-efficient solutions, smaller companies can follow. They can also encourage their employees to do the same at home. So, how can manufacturing companies really make a difference? Below, you’ll find a few simple solutions that can work for any industry, no matter how big.
Audit Your Water Use
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to making water conservation changes to your industry, conduct an audit. The best way to get started is to know where your water is going, and how it’s being used. It’s the same way you might create a budget for your company; you first have to know what you’re ‘spending’ and where it’s going. Then, you can decide where you can cut back. You’ll likely be able to cut down on certain areas of your water use as well. Periodic audits are a great way to hold your industry accountable and see the changes you’re making in action.
Compare Yourselves to Others
Again, you can use a business strategy to conserve water. Take a look at your industry competitors and use them as a benchmark for how much water you should be using. If you find that your manufacturing company is using a lot more than a close competitor, consider why, and what you can do about it.
You can also commend your competitors on their success when it comes to water efficiency. Don’t be afraid to copy their strategies for success in this area. Even if you’re competing on other levels, this is something everyone within your industry should be on board with.
Once you know how your water is being used, determine what you can do to make modifications. This includes things like reducing the overall water flow and installing new equipment where needed. Water-efficient equipment is available for most manufacturing operations. It may take a bit of research to find the right equipment for your facility, but making the investment to change can save your company a lot of money in the long run, and will reduce your water usage immediately.
Get Your Employees Involved
One of the best ways to practice water efficiency in a manufacturing industry is to educate your employees about it. Most water conservation solutions start small. The more people who are able to get involved, the bigger the impact. The more your employees know about what your industry plans to do to conserve water, the better. They’ll use this newfound education in the workplace. But, they’ll also likely take it home with them and practice better conservation habits there, too.
Any industry can make a difference when it comes to water use. It’s all about taking the initiative to do so. Why not let your manufacturing industry be the first in starting a water-efficient revolution for the future?
We know how important it is to save water for the environment. But, many people don’t realize that when you conserve water, you can also make a huge dent in your utility bills. So, if your motivation for helping out the planet isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be yet, use saving a few dollars to make some changes toward water efficiency. Even just cutting down your water bill by $20 each month can save you over $200 each year. The tips in this article can put that money back in your pocket. Plus, you’ll be doing your part for the planet at the same time!
Fill and Store Cold Water
One of the biggest water-wasters occurs when you’re standing at the sink waiting for it to get cold. Nothing’s better than a glass of cold water on a hot day, but you don’t have to wait at the tap in order to get a cool drink. Instead, fill up a jug or two with water at the sink, and put it in your fridge. Then, you’ll have cold water ready to go whenever you’d like! You don’t have to wait for the tap to get cold, and you’ll have your water faster.
Use Your Dishwasher
If you have a dishwasher, you might think that it would use more water than hand-washing your dishes. Actually, it’s just the opposite. Nearly every dishwasher on the market today is energy-efficient. If you run a full load of dishes, you’ll reduce the number of times it has to run. Plus, your dishwasher will use less water than if you were to hand wash and rinse each dish.
Take Smarter Showers
If you want to invest a bit of money into reducing your water use, install a low-flow shower head. That quick fix alone can cut back the amount of water you use in the shower by up to 50%. But, if you really want to make a dent in your water bill, simply take shorter showers. Shorter showers are beneficial in many ways – they won’t dry out your skin or hair as much as standing under hot water for a long period of time.
If you can deal with it, try taking cooler showers, too. Then, you’ll save water and save on your energy bill because your hot water heater won’t have to work as hard.
Turn the Water Off
We end up wasting a lot of water when we do simple, daily tasks. Unfortunately, it becomes a part of our routine so we don’t often notice it. One of the biggest culprits is leaving the faucet to run while you brush your teeth. The next time you polish those pearly whites, get your brush wet and then turn the faucet off. If you brush your teeth for even two minutes, think of all the water you’re saving that would otherwise literally be going down the drain (with your money!)
As you can see, these are simple changes you can implement right away to cut back on your utilities. The more money you save, the more motivated you might be to make even bigger changes. In turn, you’ll be doing your part to conserve water and energy.