Rain barrels are a great way to reuse rainwater: they just sit underneath the gutters of your house and collect rain water dripping from the roof. A few weeks later, you have free water available to water your plants and lawn, and more. Not sold on them yet? Read on to find out more about the great environmental benefits of using one.
Image Credit: Image: Low Impact Development Center
Rain barrels have a low initial cost and are a great way to save money and water. Besides providing free, clean water for your plants, rain barrels can help fill a swimming pool, or wash your car (if you don't want to use waterless car wash products). During the summer season, 40% of all water in a home gets used, so collecting water during the rainy season makes a lot of ecological and economical sense: on average, a rain barrel can save 1,400 gallons of water in an average home.
Store-Bought or Self-Made?
Rain barrels can be purchased at local hardware and garden stores. Store bought rain barrels usually range in size from about 50 to 80 gallons, with a wide price range going from $50 to $250 depending on the size, style, and color of the barrel. If you live in a region where yearly precipitation tends to fall hard over only a few days, such as is the case in Southern California, you might want to consider a larger rain barrel, of up to 200 gallons. While smaller barrels are ideal in regions with frequent precipitation throughout the year, reservoirs of 100 gallons and more will be able to collect voluminous rains.
You can also make your own rain barrel, using a polyethylene plastic container, which can be found at little or no cost from commercial car washing companies or from bottling and food companies. With an opening at the top to let the water drip from the gutter, a screen to prevent mosquitoes and debris from falling into the reservoir, a spigot at the bottom to easily access the water, and a few more materials and tools, you can be the proud maker of a very eco-friendly garden essential. For full instructions, watch this YouTube video how to make your very own rain barrel.
Rain Harvesting Programs
If neither making your own or purchasing one is an option, see if your municipality offers Municipal water programs, such as the L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program which gave 600 residents free rain barrels in 2009. Programs like these encourage residents to harvest rainwater for both economic and environmental reasons. For more information, check out the EPA' s webpage on rain barrels as well as L.A. Rainwater Harvesting Program's complete rain barrel How-To-Guide.
Do you have a rain barrel? Are you satisfied with it? Please share your experience in the comment box below!