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5 Ways to Save Water (and Money) by Rainwater Harvesting

Image of a drain pipe pouring into a rain barrel.

Published: 5 January 2021

Rainwater harvesting is the collection of rainwater from a catchment area, like a roof or car port, that can later be used to water your garden or wash your vehicles. It is also an effective and easy way to conserve water. 

Rainwater harvesting systems can be as simple or as complex as you choose – and they don’t have to be a huge blow to your wallet.  

Keeping rainwater on your property also helps reduce the amount of pollutants, such as pesticides or fertilizers in your yard, from flowing into storm drains and eventually into waterways and rivers. You’ll also reduce your outdoor watering and save on your water bill. 

Here are five tips to get you started on your DIY water harvesting system:

1. Look for a catchment area
The easiest way to begin collecting rainwater is to look for areas where it naturally flows off the roof. Screening your gutters to prevent large debris from entering your rain barrel is also a good idea but isn’t necessary. 

2. Choosing your barrel
There are many styles of rain barrels to choose from that you can find at your local hardware store or online that range from $50 to $200. Barrels come in all shapes and sizes so make sure to choose one that would best suit your needs. Some local water agencies offer rebates for rain barrels or give them away for free.

3. Installing your barrel 
Whichever barrel you choose should be placed on a flat and level surface. Place a tap or spigot at the bottom of the barrel that will be used to release the rainwater whenever you are ready to use it. Attaching a mesh screen to the top of the barrel should also be considered as it can act as a filter for bugs, leaves, and other debris. 

4. Keep barrels clean 
Keeping your barrel clean helps prevent mold and algae. It is recommended that your rain barrels are emptied and scrubbed once a year, usually at the end of summer before the winter begins. Cleaning your barrels regularly will help ensure clean storage of rainwater for years to come.  

5. Make the most of your collected water
Most water that is properly cleaned and stored can be used for things like cleaning and gardening. Here are a few ideas: clean your deck, porch, and house exterior, water flowers, trees and shrubs, use for a compost pile, or filling a water feature in your yard. 

For more water saving tips that you can use year-round, visit