Rain barrels have been around for years and continue to rise in popularity. As more people are looking for ways to cut their bills, reducing consumption is the first option families go to. Turning off lights when you leave a room, taking less showers, and unplugging electronics are easy first steps to take. For the more advanced energy-efficient user, there are rain barrels. Don’t let the word “advanced” scare you, they’re easy to install.

Flooded catch basin

Rain barrels are exactly what you think they are, barrels that collect rain. The bigger the roof, the more rain water you collect.  Rain barrels store this water for later use.  This means that after a big storm, you will always have a large source of water at hand.  And the best part is, it’s free!  The rain barrel allows you to store the water indefinitely; to be used to sustain your garden during times of little rain, as well as to be used for your other outside water needs, like washing your car and your pets.  Rain barrels are also beneficial in the sense that they can help prevent flooding.  A few gallons of rainwater prevented from flowing through the streets may not make a difference, but if everyone invested in a rain barrel, the amount of potential flooding during a storm could be reduced dramatically.  This not only benefits people, but also the environment.  Rain naturally erodes the topsoil in a storm, making it harder for plants to grow.  If less rainwater fell onto the soil and went instead to the rain barrel, we could slow the process of soil erosion.  The only caveat to the rain barrel is the fact that it is a reservoir of still water; which is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes and other creatures that will make your water less desirable.  However, this problem has been solved by sealing the top of the rain barrel against these unwanted creatures, as seen below:

rain-barrel-diagram

Rain barrels can be purchased at Lowes, Home Depot, from Amazon, and even at Walmart!  The prices for rain barrels range from about $60 for a basic, plain variety, up to over $100 for the fancier ones, like this one from Walmart:

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For the more thrifty and handy people out there, you can obtain the individual parts and build your own rain barrel, as described in the video below.  When you install your rain barrel, it is always important to set it up on level ground, typically slightly above ground level for easy retrieval of water.  It is also important to have an overflow pipe or some other kind of mechanism to divert any excess water from building up in the barrel.  It may seem like an waste of time and money in the short term, but over time your wallet, your neighbors, and the environment will be thanking you.

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How to Use Rain Barrels for Storm Water Management

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