Saving for a rainy day?
Try building a rain barrel! Collecting rainwater is a fantastic way to save money and use naturals resources.
Rain barrels collect the water runoff from a roof and store it for later use, typically to water gardens and lawns. During the wet summer months, you might conserve around 1,300 gallons of water. Using a rain barrel can save you an average of $35 a month on your water bill in the summer! Before building a rain barrel check your state regulations to see if there are any laws against it, as it is not legal in certain parts of North America.
Selecting Your Barrel
All rain barrels are basically made the same way, but depending on the materials, it can cost anywhere from $15 to $150 and up.
The primary tool you will need is, of course, a barrel. You can also recycle an outdoor trash can if you have one lying around -- this is one of the cheaper barrel options. For a blue plastic barrel, check places like Craigslist, local food distributors, and car washes. You can usually find 55-gallon barrels in the $10 - $15 range.
If you want a more refined style, see if a local vineyard has any oak barrels for sale. They are pricier at about $80 a piece, but are long-lasting and beautiful. Whatever you choose for your barrel, make sure the barrel did not contain anything toxic that may be harmful to plants later. Be mindful of smells, as not all of them will come out. Wash your barrel thoroughly before moving onto the next step.
Constructing Your Barrel
Once you have selected a barrel, it is time to gather the rest of your tools and materials.
You will need:
- Silicone caulk or another tube of watertight sealant
- A drill
- 2 rubber washers
- 2 metal washers
- 1 hose clamp
- 1 spigot
- A drill bit the same size or smaller than your spigot
Landscaping fabric or window screen to prevent bugs and debris from getting in your barrel.
You will be able to find all of these items at a hardware store or online. Bulk stores are normally cheaper.
The first step is to drill a hole roughly the size of the spigot. Keep in mind that you will need room to put a bucket under the spigot, so do not put the hole too low! Place a metal washer onto the threaded end of the spigot, then place a rubber washer on the spigot. This will prevent leaks and hold the metal washer in place. Apply your caulk or sealant over the rubber and insert the spigot into the hole. Read the directions on the sealant for an estimated wait time on how long it will be until it is dry.
When the sealant is finished drying, place a rubber washer on the inside of the barrel and then a metal washer. Hold them in place with your hose clamp. Next, cut a hole in the top of the lid that will connect directly to your home’s downspout. You can also buy a downspout adapter to connect them. Cut one or two extra holes for any overflow that might occur. Finally, place the landscaping fabric or window screen on top of the barrel, put the lid back on, set up the barrel under the downspout, and wait for a rainy day!
Natural rainwater is far better for plants, without additives like chlorine and sodium. Making your own is easy and can be cheap. You can make any barrel your own with a little creativity! How would you spice up your rain barrel?