For an increasing number of Australian homeowners, creating a home that is both self-sufficient and ecologically sustainable is a high priority. This is the result of a combination of a deeper understanding of the negative impact that traditional energy and resource production has on the environment and the ever-increasing cost of electricity and water.

One of the simplest ways to create a more sustainable home is to install a rainwater collection tank to harvest water for your home's use. The water that falls onto your home's roof is diverted via the gutters into a large tank for storage. Your choice of tank is important and you'll also need to add these two products to gain access to your water and ensure that it's safe and clean enough to consume.

1. A water pump

Collecting rainwater is an easy and low-tech part of having your own water supply. Getting the rainwater from the tank into your home's taps and water outlets is a little less simple and will involve installing a water pump. They're generally installed near to your water tank and the rainwater is drawn from the tank through the pump and into your home as needed.

Water pumps don't need to be enormous to work effectively, but you'll need one with enough power to supply you with good water pressure and fast delivery. Opt for a well-respected manufacturer to ensure that your new pump is durable, reliable and efficient.

Water pumps are most commonly powered by electricity. If you rely on mains power, it's worth having a small petrol or diesel generator as a backup power supply for your pump if you lose power during a storm or system fault. You could also consider a solar powered pump which can switch to mains electricity as needed, which is a sustainable and cost-effective option.

2. A filtration system

Drinking rainwater that's fresh and hasn't had any chemicals added to it is one of the main attractions of having a rainwater tank. For many people, it's very difficult to palate the taste of mains water after becoming used to rainwater. However, although it's fresh and natural, your water supply can sometimes become unsafe due to debris, animal droppings or contaminants.

Using mesh gutter guards and a fine mesh filter on the intake opening on your tank is enough to filter out large pieces of detritus. However, it's the tiny, microscopic ones that these won't trap that are the cause for concern. Bacteria, mould and small parasites can be washed from your home's roof to take up residence in your tank.

As well as regularly testing your tank water for these microbes, it's also a good idea to install a water filtration system to prevent most of these nasties from reaching your drinking glass. This can be a large one that filters all of the water that exits your tank or a smaller one that is fitted to your kitchen taps to filter out drinking water only.