Rainwater FAQ's

Northern Energy Solutions  have compiled a very comprehensive list of questions that we often get asked. If you cannot find an answer to your question please don't hesitate to contact us by phone or email.

Q. What is rainwater harvesting?
It is the collection from roofs and storage of rainwater that would otherwise flow down gutters into the drain or a septic tank. Rainwater is stored in tanks ranging from 200 litres 20,000 litres, with the most popular for detached family houses at 6,500 litres. The rainwater is not considered potable by the UK Building Regulations but the state-of-the-art filtering provides clear water which is used for drinking in many parts of the world. Water can get brackish if stored above ground where it is subject to summer warmth; digging the tank in underground where the water stays clear, is therefore essential for rainwater to be used in the house for flushing toilets and washing clothes. Your tank kit typically comes with filter, pump and other standard equipment to keep collected water clean. The larger the tank you have, the more money you will eventually save and the more protection you will give your garden during droughts and possible hosepipe bans.

Q. What can you use rainwater for?
Rainwater can be used for all outdoor uses: watering the garden, washing cars, cleaning patios, drives and windows, topping up swimming pools, ornamental ponds and hot tubs. With some plumbing alterations, it can also be used inside the house to flush WCs and feed clothes washing machines. Besides saving on drinking water use, rainwater use encourages less build-up of calcium deposits in appliances. The diversion of rainwater to the storage tank can in many situations attenuate flooding.

Q. Why should I use rainwater?
Each person in the UK uses about 160 litres of drinking quality water a day. Nearly half of this amount need not be drinking water. It seems crazy to bring in drinking water from miles away via your water board to water your garden or clean your car when you could provide water directly from your own roof. April 2007 was the driest on record, but then June 2007 was the wettest on record.  The more water you can collect in wet spells, the more you will have when it's dry.

Q. Is rainwater better than drinking water for outdoor use?
Your garden will prefer rainwater to tap water because it does not contain the chemicals needed to make tap water drinking quality. And when using a cleaning agent, you will need to use much less, again because there are no chemicals and the water is softer.

Q. How will rainwater harvesting help me during a hosepipe ban?
In 2006 many areas had hosepipe bans banning watering gardens and cleaning cars. New legislation will give water boards the right to prohibit using hosepipes for other outdoor cleaning purposes such as washing boats, patios, drives and windows, and also for filling swimming pools, ornamental ponds and hot tubs.

Q. Will I save on my water bill if I have rainwater harvesting?
You can save on your water bill if you have a meter. Government reports estimate that 70% of customers see their bills reduced with a meter by 10 to 15% because of the user's awareness that mains water costs money. Most water boards have ready-reckoners on their websites to help you decide whether a meter is a good idea. Currently only around 23% of households in the UK have meters, but they are obligatory in new builds. You water board is also obliged to fit you one if you request it.

Q. If my water is not metered already, can I ask to have one installed?
Yes, all water boards have to install a meter at the request of the householder. Installation is free, and some boards provide the meter as well. Some water boards insist on installing a meter with change of ownership, and sometimes, in tenancy of a property.

Q. Will I save on my water bill if I have rainwater harvesting?
Typically half your water bill is for mains water supply and half is for drainage. Most calculation of rainwater use for flushing toilets and washing clothes shows that water consumption can be halved. This would therefore knock about 25% off your water bill. In august 2008, 10 water boards applied for price increases that could lead to a 40% rise within 5 years; savings will become more significant.