Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Catching The Rain

Our backyard still needs a little spring cleanup, but I thought I'd go ahead and post about our rain gathering system, since gardening season is beginning.

We first got the idea for using these translucent white food grade tanks for our rain water when we were stalking my bloggy friend Sharon's house one evening.  She and her husband Kevin have similar tanks.  Basically, we've diverted all rain that falls on the house into the top tank, which sits on the house's original back stoop.  When it's full, we empty it into the lower tank and let the top tank fill again.  While we will use water from either tank, we usually will draw from the top tank if possible, because gravity makes the water flow faster.  Eventually we may get a pump for the lower tank to solve the flow issue.

At first, we blocked the downspouts on the other end of the house, but found that the tanks were getting full while the gutters were overflowing, so Shane opened the other end up again.  Currently, we aren't collecting rain on that end, but it's definitely an option for us in the future.

We found the tanks, which hold 275 gallons each, on craigslist; we paid $130 for both.  We've seen them both cheaper and more expensive since then.  Shane recalls that he had to buy some of the downspout material, some brackets and a couple of hose fittings for the spigots were also purchased.  The total cost for the entire setup was about $175.

What I do know is that we saved a bundle on water last summer.  We planted out in April, before we bought the rain tanks, and our first billing after planting was 50% more than our average!  After we bought the tanks, our bills went back down to average for the rest of the season.  We believe the money we saved in the first season recovered most of the cost; soon we'll be seeing nothing but savings from our rain barrels.

Granted, each season will be different and the savings will fluctuate.  When there is a lot of rain, we collect a lot of water, but we don't need to use as much of what we collect.  During a dryer season, we'll collect less, but will use more (or all) of what we collect.   Still, any savings is a good savings, both for our budget and for the environment.


Diane said...

Very impressive set up. Enjoying your blog.

Annie Jones said...

Thanks for the compliments. I enjoy your blog, too. :)

Sheila said...

Very neat!! I'm going to show this to Kevin--maybe we can come up with something similar. We had thought about this but had no idea how to go about it.

Janelle said...

You never cease to amaze me! :-)

SonyaAnn said...

I want to be you when I grow up. Does it matter that we are the same age?
You are amazing!

Annie Jones said...

Sheila, Janelle and SonyaAnn: Really, Shane is the amazing one. He can figure out to make or rig just about anything.

Doug Robertson said...

Excellent setup, kudos for doing that. I'm sure it probably has already paid for itself, if not it will in short order, and great conserving water. Very cool.

Annie Jones said...

Doug: After I got the costs updated, I see may be right. It will probably take us a couple more months of watering with collected rain this season to reach the break-even point.

Meanwhile, our city councilman thinks it's great (the city encourages rain collection) and wants to send folks our way to take a look.

Doug Robertson said...

You should charge admission, pay it off even sooner! :)

slugmama said...

Since moving here we haven't had the need to water our gardens(now that I've said that, we'll no doubt have a drought this summer lol), but I would love to set up a rain catchment system like this!
I wish I could use this to refill the pool however as DH goes through the water with that...ugh!
Nice job!!