Thursday, December 4, 2008

Your Budget and the Environment Will Love Your Rain Barrels

We lived in a row house in the city for years and years and did not have a big enough yard to even worry about watering when the weather was hot and dry. We recently moved to a house with a bigger yard that requires more maintenance and attention. My husband is adamant about not watering the grass in our yard, even when we hit a hot and dry patch with the weather. Luckily, the majority of our neighbors have the same opinion. The plants and bushes are another story. We have had an inordinate amount of rain this year. In between those really wet weeks, though, there were really hot weeks. Every time I would turn on the hose outside, I felt guilty that I had not collected some rain from the downpours. I realized that rain barrels were the answer.

I read a shocking statistic once that an estimated 40 percent of household water in the summer months is used to water gardens and lawns. Capturing rain water with a system of rain barrels can decrease the demand on our municipal water supplies significantly. The Maryland Environmental Design Program believes rain barrels could allow a consumer to save about 1,300 gallons of water during peak water usage months. Clean water is one of our precious resources. It should be used wisely. City sewer infrastructures are more frequently overflowing during downpours, due to population increases. Rain barrels can decrease the demand on those systems. In a world where almost nothing is free anymore, rain water is one of the exceptions. Harnessing rain water via rain barrels is the cheapest way to water your plants and lawn. Having a stash of water in rain barrels also allows you to water at your leisure, if your city has any water restriction times. Rain water also does not contain chlorine, unlike public water sources.

Utilizing your existing downspouts and gutters, rain barrels offer a place to store the harnessed water for when you need it. You can find all sorts of rain barrels, depending on your budget and needs. There are basic plastic barrels, or a fancy pottery barrels that will dazzle your neighbors. I recommend child proofing your rain barrels, which means making sure all barrels have a secure top or are too narrow for a child to get inside. Many barrel intakes can be fitted with a filter to help keep mosquitoes at bay. Rain barrels with overflow hoses and a spout are also very handy.

Everyone should be utilizing rain barrels. Even if you do not own your home, get your landlord on board and offer to install a barrel yourself. Help your bottom line and the world by installing some rain barrels. I am embarrassed that my environmentally conscious household waited so long to do it.

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