A pipe from a greywater system that recycles water from an air conditioner dripping water into a bowl outside a home

Greywater is residential wastewater. Instead of flushing wastewater down the drain, a greywater system recycles it for other activities like irrigation and flushing toilets. 

So, considering the installation and operational costs, is a greywater system worth it?

This article will discuss the pros and cons of home greywater to help you decide if the system is worth it for your home or not. Keep reading!

Is a Home Greywater System Worth the Money?

A greywater system is worth the money since it helps you save water and reduce water bills.

Since the cost of 10 gallons (37.85 liters) of water is approximately three cents, a greywater system can save you $780 in water bills annually.

The Cost of a Home Greywater System

The cost of installing a home greywater system is the main reason you may want to know whether the system is worth it. Will the water savings realized through the use of this system help recoup the initial investment?

According to HomeAdvisor, most simple greywater systems cost between $1,000 and $2,500 on average, including installation.

Installing a complex full-house greywater system can cost you upwards of $20,000.

Other costs to factor into the calculation include:

  • New plumbing: $375 to $1,850.
  • Setting up a sprinkler system: $2,500 averagely.
  • Site excavation: $1,500 to $5,100.

The price of greywater systems alone varies based on the brand.

Some of the common greywater system brands and their prices are shown below:

Greywater System BrandPrice ($)
RainHarvest Systems Household System900
Aqua2use Grey Water Diversion System500
Aqua2use PRO2,100
Flotender GXL Greywater Irrigation System11,600
Table 1: Greywater system brands and their prices. Source: HomeAdvisor.

Advantages of a Home Greywater System

Laundry and showering are the home activities that consume the most water.

Unfortunately, most homeowners allow this water to go down the drain since it is not potable (drinkable).

Instead of wasting such a large amount of water, a home greywater system recycles it for other purposes. 

Here are the pros of a home greywater system:

Contributing Towards Green Building

Green building involves designing resource-efficient and environmentally responsible structures.

Since water is scarce, green building calls for incorporating systems that can help conserve and reuse it.

Greywater systems contribute to green building by promoting water conservation and reuse. This system means you don’t have to use fresh water to irrigate your crops or flush toilets.

According to USGS, home irrigation activities account for one-third of household water use. Therefore, using recycled greywater for this role can help conserve more water, making your home resource-efficient.

Reduced Stress on Sewage Systems

Two underground home Greywater System storage tanks side-by-side

Greywater is not contaminated with human waste, so it’s safer to reuse for irrigation and toilet-flushing purposes than wastewater from the toilet.

When you direct greywater for reuse, you reduce the amount of water that goes through municipal wastewater treatment facilities. Doing so reduces the energy used in these facilities to treat wastewater. 

Consequently, that energy is directed towards pumping and supplying more fresh water to homes. 

In addition, greywater reuse reduces the stress on sewage systems since they don’t have to handle as much water flow. 

The result is efficient sewerage systems that don’t overflow and don’t expose people to:

  • Contaminated water
  • An increased risk of illness
  • Pungent smells

Conserving Potable Water

One of the main reasons people recycle greywater is to conserve potable water.

Using recycled greywater can help reduce the strain on the limited water sources. Since homeowners can use greywater for non-drinking purposes, recycling it means less demand for potable water.

Water Bill Savings

The price of water in the United States rose by 80 percent between 2010 and 2018.

With the cost of water at an all-time high, you may think you have no choice but to look for ways to conserve water and reduce your water bills—installing a greywater system is one way to achieve just that. 

You can use greywater for activities that don’t require clean water, like flushing toilets and irrigation.

Using greywater for these purposes means spending less on water bills since the meter won’t count the recycled water twice.

Diagram of a DIY Greywater System
This DIY greywater system uses wood and gravel as a filtration medium. Courtesy of Climate Biz.

Here is a general approximation of how much a home greywater system can help you save yearly:

  • The approximate amount of water conserved per annum is 2,600 gallons (9,842.07 liters).
  • The average cost of 10 gallons (37.85 liters) of water in the United States is three cents.
  • Therefore, you save $780 = (2,600/10) • 3.

Saving $780 on water bills per year is a significant amount of money.

Disadvantages of a Home Greywater System

While there are several benefits to having a home greywater system, it also has its drawbacks. 

Here are some downsides worth considering:

Required Maintenance and Monitoring

Greywater is not as clean as fresh water, and it may contain the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Oils
  • Bleach
  • Soaps
  • Debris

You must clean or replace your equipment after using water with such substances. 

For example, if you use greywater for irrigation, you will need to clean and maintain your sprinklers regularly to avoid clogging.

Also, it’s crucial to monitor the quality of greywater to ensure it is safe for reuse. The bacteria levels can increase when it sits in a storage tank for too long.

Spraying your crops with contaminated water can be catastrophic not only to the crops but also to your health.

A greywater system tank outside a home

May Require Permits and Compliance With Regulations

Depending on where you live, it may be legal or illegal to install a greywater system without proper permits.

Some places require an inspection of your system before granting permission for use.

In addition, you must comply with regulations on installing and using a greywater system to avoid causing harm to the environment and your health.

Some states in the US are against irrigating lawns with it. Therefore, you should consult your local authorities before installing the system.

High Cost

Installing a greywater system is not a walk in the park.

First, the installation is costly since you have to purchase or rent equipment. Moreover, you may need to hire a professional plumber or contractor to set up the system correctly.

The cost of installing a home greywater system depends on its type, which in turn affects its complexity. 

Here is an estimate of how much it costs to install the different greywater systems:

  • Diversion devices – purchasing this equipment costs between $750 and $2,500, and the installation cost ranges from $250 to $1,000.
  • Greywater treatment system – the cost of purchasing and installing the equipment ranges from $4,000 to more than $10,000.

Aside from the initial cost, maintaining and monitoring your greywater system also adds to the expenses.

Final Thoughts

Like anything else, a home greywater system has pros and cons.

Based on the above demonstration, the pros of a home greywater system outweigh its cons.

Furthermore, the environmental and financial benefits of reusing greywater are worth the initial cost and maintenance expenses.

However, it’s essential to ensure you comply with local laws and regulations when installing a greywater system.

It’s also crucial to monitor the water quality to prevent harm to your health and the environment.

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