Falling Rain = Falling Utility Bills: Rain Catchment Systems

Posted by Paige Thomas ~ March 13, 2009

If you think of Portland, or any place in the Pacific Northwest, the first thing you probably think of is the rain.

The rain falls and falls and falls most of the year.

But a truly happy Portlander is someone who doesn't mind the rain (makes for a great reason to stay inside and enjoy a lazy day) but is also someone who likes to preserve the natural beauty we have in the region. That means doing what you can to lessen you're impact, and making the most of the resources you have.

One increasingly popular way to preserve resources in Portland is to install a home rain catchment system. The name sounds fancy, but it's basically just a way to store non-potable rain water for uses such as lawn irrigation, watering your plants, or washing your car.

(Bureau of Planning and Sustainability)

By collecting rain water in these systems it helps preserve our limited resources of potable water for purposes where drinkable water isn't essential. Plus, you'll be using less water from the tap, which means lower water bills every month.

Most systems involve some kind of downspout from your roof down to a catchment barrel at the bottom. You can find out more about these basic systems and your utility savings on the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's website. They offer numerous resources to help you understand all the different aspects of rainwater harvesting.

The part of these systems I like is how you can turn them into an interesting focal point of your home, and more and more Portland homeowners are catching on to this trend which I see popping up in neighborhoods across the city.

Most systems use a basic plastic container to collect water. It's not pretty, in fact, it's pretty ugly. But right here in Portland there is a store where you can get a handmade wood barrel that's actually nice to look at, and it made out of salvaged wood. The Rainbarrel Man Co. crafts many different kinds of barrels based on the kind of system you plan to install. Here's an example of the barrels:

You'll also have to figure out how you are going to funnel the water from the roof to the barrel. The obvious answer is downspouts, but the more interesting answer is rain chains. These little cups will transport your water down and into the barrel and adds an eye-catching, artistic feature to the outside of your home.



Check out some other posts for more ways to "green" your home:

What LEED Means for You: Learn about LEED guidelines for construction, and how it can change your lifestyle. Green Materials - Cork: This renewable resource is pretty cool for your floors and for other home projects. What the Stimulus Means for Homeowners: Find out how your home can benefit with tax credits for home improvements and first time home buyers.

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