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Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rainwater for reuse domestically. Methods of domestic rainwater harvesting include rain barrels, cisterns, and tanks. It has a wide range of as benefits including:

  • Significant reduction of water usage – When including outdoor usage, up to 80% of domestic water usage does not require drinkable water and can easy be supplied by rainwater usage. Within the home , rainwater can supply the water for non potable applications such as washing machines, water-hoses, heating & cooling, landscape irrigation, indoor sprinkler systems and toilets. For potable uses such as faucets, showers, baths, and dishwashers, proper treatment applications would also have to be installed.
  • Stormwater abatement – In municipalities that have combined sewer systems, reducing storm water runoff is especially important. Excess runoff during heavy rainstorms often leads to the discharge of raw sewage from outfalls when treatment plant capacity cannot handle the combined flow. Installation of a rainwater harvesting system prevents this from occurring, as well as pollution from being carried into local bodies of water. Furthermore, many municipalities offer financial incentives for installation of rainwater harvesting systems.
  • Mold prevention – Water entering into the basement because of improper drainage is often times a source of mold problems in the home. Collecting the rainwater is a surefire method of prevention.
  • Financial savings – Reduction of domestic water usage through rainwater harvesting, when combined with other water saving measures as well as financial incentives can add up to significant financial savings. Operating costs for these systems are practically negligible, and they pay for themselves relatively quickly.

Rain barrels are containers connected to existing downspouts to collect rainwater from rooftop and store it for later use. This reduces stormwater flows into local streams. In the Chesapeake Bay watershed, high stormwater volume contributes to Bay pollution, by sending large amounts of road grease, sediment and trash into waterways emptying into the Bay. Rainwater harvesting is one way property owners can help make our streams, and the Bay, healthier.

Rain barrels can be made of plastic or wood and can come in various colors or designs. Rain barrels can range in size from 30 to 100 gallons, and more than one barrel can be used to increase capacity.

Many local governments offer rain barrel classes, information and (in some cases) rebates. Here is a partial list of links:

EDGE Energy supports rainwater harvesting. It is an inexpensive practice that decreases pollution and provides benefits to the homeowner. If you are interested in a rainwater harvesting system for your home, contact an EDGE Expert today.

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Visit our project maps page to learn about homeowners in your neighborhood that have worked with EDGE in the past. Remember, EDGE Energy works with HOA’s, civic groups, trade organizations, office pools, or just simply any GROUP of organized homeowners interested in completing blocks of energy audits AND retrofit services like weatherization, duct-sealing, or air-sealing, and attic insulation. Many special pricing offers have been extended in the past due to the hard work of various “Neighborhood Champions” – those who have dedicated extra time to organizing group meetings, gathering email distribution lists, and assisting with scheduling.

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