Does a Rain Barrel Make Sense for Me?

Do you spend much time thinking about water supplies? Probably not. If you’re like most of us you just expect water to be there when you turn on your taps inside or outside your home. However, growing populations, particularly in areas with few ready sources of water means water supply and consumption is a growing concern. Even if you live in an area with an abundant supply of water now, the cost of maintaining and expanding municipal water and sewer systems means it will become an issue for all of us. As Benjamin Franklin said years ago, ‘When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water”.

Rain barrels?

The idea of rain barrels and cisterns to capture rain water for reuse has been around for thousands of years and rain barrels used to be a fixture around virtually all homes in America. However, in the last century we’ve gotten away from the idea of rain barrels as a source of water, but, if you take a moment to think about it, rain barrels are an old idea that really make a lot of sense in today’s world.

Just think about it, having a rain barrel to catch rainwater for reuse can have a lot of practical advantages for a homeowner.

  • A rain barrel will dramatically reduce the amount of water running off your roof and into your yard. By minimizing the amount of water going into the ground around your foundation, you reduce the potential for ground water to get into your basement.
  • Lawns and gardens love naturally soft water that’s free of chemicals like chlorine and fluoride. A rain barrel provides a ready source of soft unchlorinated water for use in your gardens and lawns.
  • Using water from a rain barrel will cut down your family’s demands on your local water and sewer systems. Not only saving you money on your water usage today, but down the road in costs to maintain and expand the infrastructure.
  • Even if your water comes from your own well, naturally soft rainwater for your gardens (as opposed to using well water) could make capturing rainwater worthwhile for you.
  • Finally, installing a rain barrel is a relatively easy and inexpensive project that almost any homeowner can take on.

Can a rain barrel really collect enough water to make a difference?

  • You’ll be amazed at the amount of water that comes off a roof during a rainfall. A 1/2” rain falling onto a “catchment” area of 2000 square feet (the average size of home’s roof) drops approximately 2400 gallons of rain. So, even if you live in an area that only receives 20” of rainfall, you could potentially capture and reuse 96, 000 gallons of rainwater. (20inches x 4800 gallons per inch)
  • You can do your own numbers by calculating the approximate size of you own catchment area by measuring the length and width of your home, multiplying the two numbers together, then multiplying by your average annual rainfall.
  • So, you could potentially capture and reuse 96,000 gallons of water every year (or more). Even if you only capture a small percentage of all that rainwater think about what you could do with it and how much you could reduce your water bill.
  • Plus, you don’t need to restrict yourself to considering only a single rain barrel. You can easily increase the amount of rain you capture by installing multiple rain barrels at different downspouts, or by installing multiple barrels at a single location and connecting them with overflow pipes.

There’s no doubt about it. Even in today’s modern world old-fashioned rain barrels make sense. Using a rain barrel will save you money, make your lawns and gardens green and healthy and as a major added benefit, they’ll help the environment. How can you not like that old-fashioned idea?

Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer over 500 articles published on the web as well as in print magazines and newspapers in both the United States and Canada. He writes on a wide range of topics and is a regular contributor to