AN innovative plumber is installing rainwater recycling systems for businesses to help cut their bills and become environmentally friendly.

Gary Charlton runs his own plumbing business, Dorset Plumbing and Drainage, in Dorchester, and has just completed his first ever rainwater harvesting conversion project at the Morven House Hotel, Weymouth.

Mr Charlton said: "The new system works by using rainwater to supply the 12 toilets, two washing machines and garden tap water and this annually should save the hotel up to 85 per cent of water that it is currently taking from the mains supply.

"People don't realise that every time the toilet is flushed it uses six to nine litres of water, and by using rainwater you are saving this every time."

He is one of the only plumbers offering this service in the area and part of the service is to maintain the system every year for the customer.

The rain harvesting system installed in the hotel can hold up to 4,000 litres of water and is fitted with a sensor so it never completely goes empty in the event of a dry spell.

Owner of Morven House Hotel Matthew Lambley has also installed solar panels to generate electricity for his nine-roomed Victorian guesthouse.

He said: "The solar panel already makes a big difference to my bills. I am saving about 50 per cent and I am expecting the rain harvesting system to bring my overheads down considerably.

"I am really impressed by the new system and I think it should be compulsory for all new buildings in the area."

The tanks are housed in a cool room or underground space so the water does not get algae and these can be fitted in either a domestic or commercial property.

In Britain the roof of an average four-bedroom home captures more than 100,000 litres of rainwater a year and uses 70,000 litres on toilet flushing, washing machines and hosepipes, which could be substituted with rainwater.

One advantage for businesses of installing the rain harvesting system is that they can offset 100 per cent of the cost in their annual tax return, which means for some the system will be free.