Uses For Rain Water
Do You Have A Rain Barrel?
You Can Harvest The Rain
I first heard about rain harvesting in 2008 when my home town of Cedar Rapids, Iowa was flooded. Several of the city's water pumps were destroyed and we were asked not to use the city water. Luckily, we were getting plenty of rain in those days so we set out buckets and wading pools to collect the rain for our personal use.
We used that rain water to flush our toilets, clean house and I even boiled some to wash my hair and take a sponge bath. The sponge bath was not fun but I was glad for it at the time! I thought the idea of using rain water for our everyday needs was brilliant and was surprised to learn that some people harvest rain regularly with specially built barrels that attach to their down spouts.
Rain barrels are becoming more and more popular as people work to find ways to live green and save money.
Did you know that 1 inch of rain fall provides around 600 gallons of water to a 1,000 sq foot area? Depending on the size of your house and the number of rain barrels you have, that could add up to a lot of free water! On this article we will look at ways that you can use the rain from your roof for everyday tasks.
#1 Water Your Plants
This is the most obvious way to use harvested rain water. Use it to water your garden and potted plants indoors and out!
Rain water is better for plants than treated tap water which can restrict growth. Rainwater is of course, what plants were made to drink and is the perfect food for them. Harvesting water for your garden is one of the easiest ways to start transitioning to a greener garden.
Of course, you will also save money by using your rain water in the garden. Do you know how much water you use during the spring and summer to water plants? It adds up quickly! There's no point in paying for municipal water for your plants when all they want is simple, untreated rainwater!
#2 Wash Your Car
We all like how are vehicles look when they're sparkly and clean but car washes use huge amounts of water and if you wash your car frequently you are hurting Mother Nature and your wallet.
Once you start harvesting rain water, you'll be able to have your cake and eat it too... or should I say wash your car and save water too. All you need is a bucket of rain water (or two) and some environmentally friendly car wash soap. Scrub your car and then rinse with another bucket of rain water.
Bonus: rain water does not leave streaks!
#3 Clean The House
Green Cleaning has never been greener!
Did you know you can use your stored rain water to clean windows and mop floors? All you need to do is add a little vinegar!
Vinegar has been proven to kill 99% bacteria, 80% mold and 80% viruses so we know it's a super effective and cheap cleaning supply. Make cleaning with vinegar cheaper and greener when you mix it with your rain water!
Clean Windows With Vinegar and Rain Water: Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar with 2 cups rain water and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap for the perfect green window cleaner! Put it in a spray bottle and you're ready to go! This mixture also works great for mirrors and anything else you might used commercial window cleaners for.
Mop With Vinegar and Rain Water: Mix 1/2 cup vinegar with 1 gallon of rain water and you're ready to mop hardwood, tile or laminate floors!
#4 Fill The Pool
My Favorite Rain Barrel
I shopped around for a long time before I bought my own rain barrel earlier this year. I wanted something that could hold a decent amount of water but still looked nice. The terra cotta style barrels with a planter on top caught my eye immediately and I eventually decided to purchase one of those for myself.
I'm overall very pleased with my choice in rain barrels. My husband was hesitant to add something to our yard that might be an eye sore but he didn't mind at all once he saw it. The terra cotta style actually looks quite nice next to our garage and the flower planter on top adds to the visual appeal!
I had read that I would need to buy a special part for my down spout in order to direct the rain into the barrel but that was not true with the one that I chose. This barrel has a special funnel so all you need to do is direct the downspout into it to start harvesting the rain!
How I set mine up:
First, I took the elbow off of the lower end of my down spout. Then I stood the barrel next to the spout and measured to see how short I needed to make it. Leave room for the elbow that you removed earlier - you'll need it later! Finally I cut the downspout to the correct length and then reattached the elbow. After that, it fit well into the funnel on top of the rain barrel.
I was excited for it to rain again after my barrel was set up. Finally it did and I was pleased to see that about half an inch of rain was more than enough to fill my barrel to the brim - and this barrel is only harvesting from half of my garage roof!
There is also a screen that fits over the small opening of the barrel to keep out debris and bugs. I haven't had any problems with mosquitoes but you can purchase something called to kill any larva that may hatch in your barrel. Mosquito Dunk
I have seen some reports on Amazon about the spigot leaking but it has not been a problem for me. The hose works well and makes it super easy to fill buckets and watering cans.
During the summer months almost all of my water went to my vegetable garden and flowers. Now that fall has arrived, I'm using the water for indoor plants and cleaning. I live in Iowa so the barrel will have to be completely emptied and turned upside down for the winter months to prevent damage from freezing. But, I'm excited to use it again next year!
This is a picture of my daughter helping to fill her swimming pool last summer. She sure looks cute but I bet she doesn't know just how much water is being wasted in that pool!
Swimming pools (even the kiddie ones) are huge water reservoirs in the summer months and the cost to your wallet and to the city water supplies can be quite high. If you're filling a 5 foot diameter wading pool you will need around 148 gallons of water. To completely fill this pool you would need 3 full rain barrels. So, it might not be possible to completely fill your pool with rain water but you can at least top it off. Every little bit helps!
Harvest The Rain
Learn more about the benefits of rain harvesting and how it can help you shrink your carbon foot print.
Do you harvest the rain? Why or why not? What are some other ways you can think of to use rain water? Scroll down to let me know in the comment section!