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Drip Irrigation Saves Money

Drip irrigation can save your water, your time and your money. Here's how...

According to studies, households in the US and Canada use an average of 400 gallons of water per day. That is 146,000 gallons per year, the highest rate of consumption among all the countries of the world. Of course, that study includes many residents who have no gardens, as well as all the gardening enthusiasts who use more water than the average.

An example

As an example, at my house we use about 300 gallons per day inside the house. Outside, we use 322 gallons per day to water the flower beds, greenhouse and vegetable garden during the growing season. Is that a lot? Yes but that's all drip irrigation. Back when we used overhead sprinklers and hand watering, we used twice as much water in the gardens and greenhouse, or about 700 gallons per day and that was never enough.

In the old days, each of our overhead sprinklers consumed 350 gallons per hour and a lot of water was lost to evaporation, runoff and overspray. We relied on rain a lot more then and our plants suffered several water shortages each summer. With our drip irrigation, each plant now receives the exact amount of water it needs, every day of the summer. No more wilt or stress from underwatering.

By the way, we never water our lawn so that doesn't figure into our calculations at all.


Commercial growers have long known about how efficient drip irrigation can be


Most of our drip system is made up of dripline that delivers 1 gallon per hour per dripper

The calculation

[The following calculations are based on the US Dollar (USD) equal to $1.34 Canadian Dollars(CDN) ]

There are many gardeners who use a lot more water each day than we do, but let's use my house as an example. We save about 350 gallons per day by using drip irrigation rather than using sprinklers and hand watering. If we pay $.50 CDN ($.37 USD) per cubic metre of water each month, or $2.27 CDN ($1.69 USD) per 1000 gallons, we can save $23.84 CDN ($17.75 USD) per month on our water bill during the watering season. Recalculate your own savings using your local water rate and your own use of water. The figures used here are based on the average water rates across North America.

The savings

If the growing and watering season lasts from the first of May to the end of September, that's five months of savings at $23.84 CDN ($17.75 USD) per month or about $119.20 ($88.74 USD) per year. Our drip irrigation system costs about $400 ($297.77 USD) and should last at least 10 years with only minor maintenance costs.

That means that our drip irrigation pays for itself in under four years and returns a profit of $119.20 ($88.74 USD) per year for six years, the balance of its service life of ten years, for a total "profit" of $715.20 ($532.42 USD) over 10 years. Not bad.

I am not including the cost of the four timers we use to control our four drip irrigation circuits since they are an option and not truly necessary to the operation even if they do help me greatly by automating the drip irrigation.


Service life

We've been using our current drip irrigation system for four years and I see no reason to believe that it won't last for another six years. In fact, many of the components should last longer than that if they are protected from direct sunlight and kept clean by the use of good 150-mesh filters.

Save taxes

If everyone used drip irrigation to water their gardens, trees, shrubs and greenhouses, there would be a significant reduction in the demand for fresh water in our cities and towns. That would result in savings on the costs of building new water treatment plants and storm sewers that are paid from general revenue rather than from water rates. Your taxes could either go down or they could be spent for more important services such as health care.

Save fresh water

So many areas of North America face serious water shortages or drought that consumers should help conserve fresh water through changes to lifestyle and activities which include the use of drip irrigation. The supply of fresh water is limited but the demand grows each year. The cost of providing fresh water will continue to rise owing to the high price of filtering, cleaning and reusing municipal water. Some waters in the US are cleaned and recycled 15 times to serve various towns on the same river.

Drip irrigation is one way we all can help conserve our water. Best of all, drip irrigation returns enough to cover the cost of components and to return a profit on your investment.


The smallest drip circuit we have is in the greenhouse.


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