Photo: Where to get a rain barrel

Install a rain barrel to conserve water, money and protect your house from runoff. (Credit: roger_mommaerts via Flickr)

Rain barrels can be purchased from your local hardware or garden store. In fact, many cities have programs with subsidies, so check out your city's website. You can also make your own or search the classifieds, in print or online!

It's a worthy investment. They can cost over $250, depending on the size and manufacturer. Price also depends on the added bells and whistles, such as filtering systems, spigots and mosquito-proofing measures. But before you buy, check to see if your city offers a subsidy or distributes rain barrels to residents.

Did you know that more than 40 per cent of residential treated drinking water is used to water lawns and gardens? Collect rain water on your property to reduce the waste of potable water, especially during the drier summer months.

Benefits of rain barrels:

  • Rainwater harvesting can reduce storm drainage load, including reducing the chance of basement flooding.
  • Direct water away from your home's foundation.
  • Provide naturally softened and chlorine-free water—excellent for delicate houseplants, cleaning the car and window-washing.
  • Reduce your water bill.

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Additional tips:

  • Select a rain barrel size that will hold most of the rain that comes off your roof. You may need to buy one for each downspout.
  • Install the rain barrel on a level surface (it can weigh up to 545 kilograms when full), even elevating it with paving stones to take advantage of a gravity feed.
  • Make your barrel mosquito-proof by adding a lid.
  • Maintain your system by clearing roofs and rain gutters of debris, cleaning any screens in the tank, and occasionally removing the sediment by draining and cleaning the tank.
  • Don't drink the water!

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