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Water Conservation: Gutters and Rain Barrels
Water conservation is a serious responsibility for environmentally conscious homeowners. In the summer, roughly 40 percent of the average household's water use goes toward watering lawns and gardens. While we count on rainfall, a significant amount of rain water doesn't end up saturating the ground. It simply runs off roofs, along gutters, through downspouts and finds it way into the city's water system.
Harvesting water in a rain barrel is a "green" way of collecting water for plants and grass and for washing your pet or cars.
Roll out the Barrel...
...And you'll save a barrel of rain. Basically, any watertight container could be placed beside your home with a downspout from the gutters directed into it in order to store water for irrigation purposes. However, there are many manufactured barrels on the market today that are specially designed for collecting rain water. Rain barrels are available at hardware stores and come with lids and spigots. Depending on the size and manufacturer, they are relatively inexpensive, ranging in price from $50 to $250. A seventy-five gallon rain barrel can start at as little as $80. Some cities even have water conservation programs in place and offer rebates or low-cost barrels to their residents.
Raising your barrel on blocks or landscaping tiles will allow you to attach a garden hose for watering. You will get more gallons per minute from your hose the higher your barrel is raised due to the increased pressure.
In the winter, if you live in an region that is below zero, you should drain and disconnect your rain barrel so that it won't crack when the water freezes and expands.
Rain diverters can be installed on downspouts that will either channel the water to the rain barrel or to the downspout. In the winter months the water can simply be routed away from the barrel and the barrel can be winterized.
Advantages of Installing a Rain Barrel:
Rain barrels are an inexpensive means to conserve water.
They are easy to maintain.
You can water your lawn with natural, untreated, non-chlorinated water.
Barrels help to lower the peak demand for water in summer months.
Allows you to water during city imposed watering bans.
Lower water bills from recycling rain water for watering lawns and gardens.
Reduces runoff storm water, polluted with it grease, oil, nutrients, sediment and bacteria, from entering the water system.
Can be used in residential applications as well as commercial and industrial.
Keep Your Rain Barrel Mosquito-Free!
Place your rain barrel on a surface that is pervious, like mulch or gravel. Otherwise, water could pool on paved areas and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
This red barrel has good drainage under it, but it should have a lid!
Put a lid on it!
Most manufactured barrels are available with lids. These lids provide extra safety for families with kids. Additionally, lids help to keep your barrel mosquito-free. Most lids are equipped with a mosquito-proof screen.
The same mosquito-proof screening can be secured to the inside of the overflow hole.To further ensure that your barrel remains free of mosquitoes make sure that the lid is sealed, that there is no standing water on top of the barrel and that it is free of organic materials.
Mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus can spread the virus to humans with a single bite. Reduce the opportunity for carrier mosquitoes to breed on your property by making sure you don't have stagnant or standing water. Quality installation of a rain barrel should also prevent insect growth.
Rain Barrel Tips:
Make sure your rain barrel is convenient for watering by positioning it under a downspout that is close to your flower beds, garden or lawn.
Place your barrel(s) where overflow will soak your lawn and not your neighbor's property.
Make sure that overflow from your barrel won't seep into your basement by placing it on properly graded, penetrable ground.
Make use the downspout from the gutters on your garage for extra barrels.
To make your barrel less obtrusive plant shrubs around it. You could also purchase or paint your barrel a color that will blend with your home's exterior. Use a specially formulated base paint that will bond well with plastic.
Store your rain barrel upside down in the winter so that it is completely drained and will stay clean.
Buy a barrel that will keep mosquitoes out and be child-proof.
How Fast Will Your Rain Barrel Fill Up?
CG = 0.6 x R x A
CG = collected gallons
0.6 = the conversion rate for cubic feet to gallons
R = rainfall in inches
A = the square footage of roof area that is draining into the rain barrel
Roughly speaking, you will collect just over half a gallon of water for every inch of rain that falls per square foot of your roof. From just one inch of rain a 10' x 10' (100 square foot) area would yield 60 gallons of water.
If you would like to catch even more water you can link a second rain barrel to your first rain barrel with a overflow hose.
A well installed and maintained rain barrel should function properly without damaging your home or property. Need help? Use our gutter and sheet metal contractors to set up your rain barrel system. Start saving water today!
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