Reducing Your Water Bill

By: Jill Cordes
By: Jill Cordes
Wet weather can be a good tool.

An unidentified couple walk in the rain as Tropical Storm Fay approaches the Florida Keys in Big Pine Key, Fla., Monday, Aug. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Did you know that nearly one-third of all residential water use goes to watering our yards? The EPA says that amounts to more than 8 billion gallons of water every day. If you want to reduce the amount of water you use, you might want to look to your roof to see if harvesting rainwater is right for you.

By constructing a simple gutter and barrel collector, you could end up with quite a bit of rainwater for certain uses like watering the yard and washing your car. Most communities have restrictions on how you can use rainwater. For instance, it isn't safe for drinking without treatment, and sometimes it can't be used indoors without a permit. So check with your local water department for more information.

How much can you expect? There is a little math involved, but it's simple. Just remember that 1,000 square feet of roof will give you 600 gallons for every inch of rainfall.

If you don't know the square footage of your roof, grab a tape measure and a calculator and measure the edge of your house just by walking around it, and that will give you a rough estimate of how big your roof is. You'll probably be surprised at how much rainwater your roof can give you. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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